2012-13 Bitar Memorial Lecture

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March 20-21, 2013

Human Nature at the Intersection of Science, Religion and Philosophy

Dr. Nancey Murphy
Alex Plato

This year′s Bitar Memorial Lecturer is Dr. Nancey Murphy. Dr. Murphy (B.A. Creighton University (philosophy and psychology); Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley (philosophy of science); Th.D. Graduate Theological Union (theology)) is professor of philosophy at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena. Her first book, Theology in the Age of Scientific Reasoning (Cornell, 1990) won the American Academy of Religion award for excellence. She is author of nine other books, includingher most recent two: Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Cambridge, 2006); and (co-authored with Warren Brown) Did My Neurons Make Me Do It? Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will (Oxford, 2007). Additionally, she has co-edited twelve other volumes. Her research interests focus on the role of modern and postmodern philosophy in shaping Christian theology, on relations between theology and science, and on relations among philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and Christian anthropology.

Alex Plato will serve as Respondent to Dr. Murphy′s lectures. Plato (B.S. Corban University (interdisciplinary studies, music education), M.A. Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (philosophy and religion)) is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at St. Louis University. His dissertation concerns recent English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe′s defense of the principle of double effect, and more generally her moral philosophy and philosophy of action. In 2012 he participated in a seminar at Oxford University, where he gave the paper, "Inconsistency in Anscombe's Account of Double Effect?" A Teaching Fellow at SLU, Mr. Plato teaches introductory courses in philosophy and ethics, and the philosophy of religion; he has collaborated in planning and directing the Graduate Philosophy Program's annual graduate student conference. While at Talbot, he served as Adjunct Faculty in Biola′s Torrey Honors Institute. Also a musician, he assists in the ancient Latin liturgy at his local parish, singing Gregorian chant and Polyphony.

In addition to the lectures, the Bitar event includes a book table featuring Dr. Murphy′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, Baylor University - "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: Linda Zagzebski - "Self-Trust and Religious Belief"
  • 2008-09: Dr. James K.A. Smith - "A Liturgical Phenomenology for a Post-Secular Age"
  • 2009-10: R.J. Snell - "Culture of Boredom, Culture of Death"
  • 2010-11: Dr. Paul K. Moser - "Expecting a Severe God."
  • 2011-12: Dr. Alvin Plantinga - "Science, Religion and Naturalism"

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