Getting to Know TheMan (8469)

What exactly do you want to know?

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: William Lane Craig’s Science of Cosmology

What is your training in? You are a Christian right? What type? What is your position on origins?

OK. I am 32. My intellectual background is in mathematics where I received a first-class honours degree in Mathematics from Oxford. I took graduate study in philosophy of mathematics before moving on to model theory and then back again to philosophy to study non-classical languages and forcing. I was fortunate that Harvey Brown, a philosopher of physics, was in the philosophy department with who I took graduate classes in General Relativity, he also guided me in the philosophy of the standard model of particle physics. I was offered a fellowship at St. Anne’s Oxford after my Dphil but found academic life a bubble and declined. I currently work for a mental health charity at the two mental health hospitals in Oxford. I retain my Oxford standing and you will usually find me at the fortnightly ‘philosophy of mathematics’ seminar during term time. I also spent two years at Wycliffe Hall Oxford and have a masters in economics. I became a Christian as an adult after reading “Our Idea of God” and talking to Richard Swinburne about my intellectual concerns.


Well we have Swinburne in common. He’s been a huge influence on me

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Just a shame how the ‘Society of Christian Philosophers’ treated him so badly. I am no longer a member.

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Ah you are bright. Mathematics training makes a bit more sense of this.

THat’s great. What does the mental health charity do?

Tell us more. I’m curious.

What happened there? With Swineburn?

What does the 8469 mean?

My main role is to help people who have been discharged from hospital to engage once again in independent living. This usually involves organizing some day time activity, help with disability benefits and just general befriending.

"“Our Idea of God” is a beginners book on philosophical theology.

I realized that religion was more than blind faith and my intellectual concerns were met.


Tell us more. What were these concerns. How were they met. Explain it to @keiths.

Some of it is here.

One of the reasons I left academia is because the whole thing is becoming a repressive mono-mind. Remember Richard is over 80.

Is this funded by the government in any way? In the US, entanglement of religion and government is unconstitutional. That is what the Free From Religion Foundation fights against - any entanglement between religion and government.

Here is a taste

Christina van Dyke is the Executive Director of the Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP), whose President, Michael Rea, recently issued a statement on Facebook disavowing a talk defending traditional Christian sexual morality given by Richard Swinburne at an SCP conference. Rea’s critics argue that his action has politicized the SCP insofar as it has, in effect, officially distanced the Society from the traditionalist side of the dispute over sexual morality and given an SCP endorsement to the liberal side. I have argued that Rea owes Swinburne an apology, and a group of philosophers is now petitioning the SCP for an apology.

In a September 26 Facebook comment on Rea’s statement, Van Dyke tried to reassure the critics of the SCP’s neutrality:

Swinburne [gave] a talk titled, “Christian Moral Teaching on Sex, Family, and Life”, which – as Michael Rea and I have both tried to make clear – he was and remains entirely free to do. The content of that talk was entirely of his choosing. The reason for any sort of announcement following the talk was that Mike and I were being asked whether Swinburne’s views were “the” views of the SCP. They are not, because the SCP does not have an official view on this or any other matter…

To the best of my knowledge, no one in the SCP has the slightest intention of changing the current conference set-up. Keynotes will be invited and submitted papers reviewed in exactly the same way they always have… [O]rganizers will, I assume, continue to accept or reject submitted papers based entirely on their philosophical merits or flaws.

End quote. There is, however, more to the story. But first, some context. The conservative philosophy blog Rightly Considered and Rod Dreher at The American Conservative (here and here) have been tracking the Facebook responses of some prominent philosophers to the Swinburne controversy. What follows is a sample. Readers highly sensitive to obscenity are warned that they might want to stop reading at this point.

My friends, I give you North America’s finest philosophical minds:

The considered response to Swinburne and his defenders put forward by Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University, went like this:

Fuck those assholes. Seriously.

After this comment was publicized, Stanley posted a follow-up remark on Facebook:

I really wish now I hadn’t said that!! I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia, you know that sickness that has led people for thousands of years to kill my fellow human beings for their sexual preferences. Like you know, pink triangles and the Holocaust. I am really, truly, embarrassed by the fact that my mild comment “F*ck those assholes” is being spread. This wildly understates my actual sentiments towards homophobic religious proponents of evil like Richard Swinburne, who use their status as professional philosophers to oppress others with less power. I am SO SORRY for using such mild language.

Other philosophers soon joined in this Socratic discussion. For example, Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, averred:

Right on. Also: Fuck those assholes.

Rebecca Kukla, Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University, sagely added:

Those douche tankards can suck my giant queer cock.

John Collins, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, offered the novel opinion:

Fuck those assholes.

That is controversial. I see.

Even Eleonore Stump, St. Louis University, Got stuck in

“I was not at Prof. Swinburne’s talk, and my knowledge of what he said is derived from the comments about it by others. But it is clear from those comments that he took a strong stand on a highly controversial topic, which is divisive even among Christians, and that he expressed his views in an inflammatory way, so that those who disagreed with him were hurt and angry and even some of those who agreed with him were dismayed.”

Remember Stump is an adult not a 18 year virtue-signaller. She could not even be bothered to find out what he actually said.

The charity is secular.

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Philosophy departments seem to get away with that sort of vulgar irrationality. Science departments are forced by the nature of their work to stay more connected with reality. Mis-education may be a larger problem in America today than ignorance. The Problem: People who believe that they are educated are actually further from moral and physical reality than the uneducated.

It is all too easy for such mis-educated people to dismiss all disagreement with their views as ignorance and all dissension from their moral perspective as bigotry.

Thus the formally recognized status of their mis-education can actually serve to wall them off from learning anything. It protects their fragile world-view, for a time, from having to compete in the marketplace of ideas. What matter if their positions are logically indefensible? Who needs logic when one has credentials?

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Ah - but such a shame it was Oxford! :smile: (I’m from the Other Place).

It’s good to have another Brit on the boat, though - welcome, No. 8469!

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Are you saying that TheMan’s becoming a Christian disqualified him from working in a mental health charity “organizing some day time activity, help with disability benefits and just general befriending”?

Even in America, I would regard anyone bigoted enough to object to that as nothing less than a fascist. Fortunately, in England that kind of twisting of a constitution isn’t possible - sessions of Parliament start with prayers. A few extreme secularists huff and puff (but very few MPs), but it’s tricky when one’s constitution depends on a Trinitarian coronation oath.

Certainly not. TheMan’s becoming a Christian does not disqualifies him from working anywhere. What I was asking about was the book he was giving out to disabled people. By the title it seems to be religious in nature and in particular Christian. In the US, if the organization was in any way funded by the Government, he as an employee of that organization could not give that book to his patient nor even discuss it (even on his own time and expense). This is forbidden by the US Constitution First Amendment Establishment Clause and referred to as the “separation of Church and State”. He said that the organization he works for is secular, then by its own bylaws, I would expect it to require no endorsement of any religion. I am very active in this area through the US through FFRF.

That is the major difference between the UK and the US. The UK has a state religion - The Church of England. Sure the UK has religious freedom and the Church of England is no longer a dominating force in the country. You still have the House of Lords, the monarchy, and the Bishop marrying royalty. On the other hand, the US is required to have no state religion. No government entity can endorse one religion over another religion and theism over non-theism. Because the US was (is) predominating Christian throughout its history, most Christians think that the US is a Christian nation. It isn’t. That is where FFRF works with the courts to get things like prayer in the schools thrown out.