2011-12 Bitar Memorial Lecture

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November 9-10, 2011

This year′s Bitar Memorial Lecturer is premier Christian philosopher, Dr. Alvin Plantinga.

Dr. Alvin Plantinga
Dr. Alvin Pantinga
Dr. Martin Moleski
Dr. Martin Moleski

Alvin Plantinga (A.B. Calvin College 1954; Ph.D. Yale 1958) is William Harry Jellema Professor of Christian Philosophy at Calvin College, as well as emeritus John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to his 28 years at Notre Dame, he taught at Calvin College for 19 years. Acclaimed for his work on metaphysics, the problem of evil, and the epistemology of religious belief, his books include God and Other Minds (1967), The Nature of Necessity (1974), God, Freedom and Evil (1974), Does God Have a Nature? (1980), Warrant: The Current Debate (1993), Warrant and Proper Function (1993), and Warranted Christian Belief (2000). One of the most important living philosophers of religion, he is credited with helping revive Christian philosophy. Dr. Plantinga is best known for his Christian epistemology that justifies belief in God without external evidence, his "free will defense" to the logical problem of evil and his evolutionary argument against naturalism.

Dr. Plantinga′s lecture series topic is "Science, Religion and Naturalism." Lecture 1 is entitled "Science and Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies"; Lecture 2 is entitled, "Divine Action in the World." The topic reflects his current work.

Dr. Martin X. Moleski, S.J., will serve as Respondent to Dr. Plantinga′s lectures. Martin Moleski (B.A. Boston College, 1973; Society of Jesus, 1973; M.A. Fordham University, 1978; M.Div. Regis College, 1981; Ph.D. Catholic University of America, 1991) is Professor of Religious Studies and Theology at Canisius College, where he has taught for 21 years. His books include Personal Catholicism, The Theological Epistemologies of John Henry Newman and Michael Polanyi (2000); Michael Polanyi: Scientist and Philosopher (with William T. Scott, 2005); and Judging Religion Justly: A Catholic Introduction to Religious Studies, (2011). He has contributed numerous essays and reviews to the Polanyi Society′s journal, Tradition and Discovery, as well as to other theological and philosophical journals.

In addition to the lectures, the Bitar event includes a book table featuring Dr. Plantinga′s and Dr. Moleski′s works, a book signing reception, a coffee for philosophy program alumni, a buffet dinner for faculty and invited guests, a faculty luncheon, a master class for philosophy students, a dinner for current philosophy majors, and this year′s awarding of the Bitar Cash Prize for Best Student Philosophy Paper.

The Bitar Memorial Lecture Series is endowed by the William C. Kriner Family in memory of Geneva College′s beloved professor of a quarter-century, in order to continue his legacy and vision for philosophy. The Lecture was inaugurated in 2004, a year after Dr. Bitar′s untimely death. The annual Bitar Cash Prize is a gift from Mrs. Gail Bitar. The Kriner and Bitar families host the event, along with Geneva College′s Philosophy Program.

Past Bitar Lecturers include:

  • 2004-05: Dr. Stephen Evans: "Can Love be Commanded?: Kierkegaard on the Foundations of Moral Obligation."
  • 2005-06: Dr. Paul Helm: "John Calvin′s Big Idea."
  • 2006-07: Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff: "Love and Justice."
  • 2007-08: Dr. Linda Zagzebski: "Self-Trust and Religious Belief."
  • 2008-09: Dr. James K. A. Smith: "A Liturgical Phenomenology for a Post-Secular Age."
  • 2009-10: Dr. R.J.Snell: "Culture of Boredom, Culture of Death."
  • 2010-11: Dr. Paul K. Moser: "Expecting a Severe God."

Find the schedule of public activities and their locations here. For additional information, contact the Philosophy Program, 724-847-6700, or email,