I became a philosopher because I became a Christian.
As I grew up, I could see that my parents' faith was important to them, but by the time I was 14, I had decided that God was mostly irrelevant to the things that mattered to me most. I had not decided to be an atheist, or even an agnostic, though I flirted with these positions regularly.
After my sophomore year of high school, our family moved from suburban Maryland to central New Jersey. To me it seemed like the sticks! Through some new friends, I began to attend a youth group in a local church. We mostly played ping pong, but eventually we began to talk about God.
Gradually, I began to become interested in the idea that God might be relevant to my life. This notion dawned slowly in my thinking. After a few months, I had a profound experience that was as philosophical as it was religious. I realized in a moment (I was in the shower at the time) that there was too much goodness in the world for the world to be an accident. God had to be real. Shortly after this moment, I committed my own life to Christ. What I thought was my parents' faith became my own.
I attended the University of Maryland where I majored in secondary education in Biology. I did very little studying. Most of my time was spent involved in Christian student groups and with friends. Upon graduation, I decided to work in campus ministry.
Campus ministry gives one the opportunity to hear lots of hard questions. I found myself working hard to present plausible answers to the problem of evil, reasons to think God exists, how faith and reason are related. I was driven to read lots of books to figure out how to begin to answer these questions.
It finally dawned on me that most of what I was reading was philosophy. So, at the age of 25, I took my first philosophy class. I loved it! I picked up a few more classes at the various campuses at which I worked, and I finally began to think about graduate school.
When Jeanie and I were married in 1985, we worked at Brown University in Rhode Island. I began to tackle my MA degree at the University of Rhode Island (part time). It was here that my real education began. The professors there helped guide my study and pointed me towards Syracuse, where I did my Ph.D.
Along the way we have had three kids. They are great fun! Our two boys are studying film, and our daughter is in high school.
Now I work for the Rivendell Institute at Yale (sort of a Christian think tank or study center - www.rivendellinstitute.org) and serve as a part time lecturer in the philosophy department. I am still thinking about God and evil, faith and reason and why it makes sense to be a Christian. The questions get harder and more interesting with each layer of learning.
The opportunity to teach keeps me on my toes philosophically. Students ask great questions, and they push me to think with greater clarity. We have great fun exploring together.
I would not have become a philosopher had I not become a Christian and faced the challenging questions of our age. For me a relationship with Christ has been the starting point of my journey to understand reality in the world, human nature, and what it means to live.
"If my thought-dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Dylan, 1965
Reading, Rock and Roll, Guitar, watching movies
Fantasy dinner guests
Augustine, Descartes, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan
Best advice I ever received
The first forty years of life are preparation.
My worst subject in school
All the subjects in my major!
If I weren't a professor, I would
still try to be a rock star?????
Lost in the Cosmos (Walker Percy)
Any Jane Austen, anything by the Ganssle Brothers, Mary Poppins, Humphrey Bogart,
as my friend Dave Horner wrote,
Nobody knows I
really want to be a rock star- wait.... everyone knows that
My latest accomplishment
my book an the new atheists got accepted by Baylor University Press- coming in september 09
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