Geneva College

2011 Bitar Lecture Schedule

Wednesday, April 27
6 p.m. Dinner Buffet (by invitation)
Benedum Room, Alexander Hall
7 p.m. Announcement and Presentation of the Byron I. Bitar Memorial Annual Cash Prize for Best Student Philosophy Paper
7:30 p.m. Lecture 1:"Divine Severity"
Skye Lounge, Student Center
8:20 p.m. Respondent: S. Joel Garver
8:40 p.m. Q & A
Thursday, April 28
7:30 p.m. Lecture 2:"Human Expectations of God" Skye Lounge, Student Center
8:20 p.m. Respondent: S. Joel Garver
8:40 p.m. Q & A
9 p.m. Book Signing Reception Skye Lounge, Student Center
Other Activities for Geneva Faculty and Students
Thursday, April 28
9:30 a.m. Master Class, Room 20, Old Main
12 p.m. Faculty Lunch
President′s Dining Room, Alexander Hall
4:15 p.m. Philosophy Majors Dinner
Special Philosophy Alumni Event
Wednesday, April 27
9 p.m. Philosophy Alumni at BFCAT RSVP to


Series Title: Expecting a Severe God
The problem of divine severity is the problem of whether, and if so, how, a God worthy of worship would allow human life to be as severe, or as rigorously difficult, as it actually is. This is not a version of the problem of evil, because severity in human life need not be evil at all. Severity can consist of a kind of rigor or stress that is altogether free of evil but is nonetheless severely difficult for humans. Philosophers and theologians have written extensively on various problems of evil, but the problem of divine severity has received relatively little attention. These two lectures contend that we should expect evidence and knowledge of God′s existence to be available to humans only in a manner suitable to severe divine purposes in self-revelation. In addition, we should expect these divine purposes to include the severe transformation of human moral characters toward God′s moral character, for the sake of human improvement. This approach yields a major shift in our understanding of human knowledge and evidence of divine reality, because it demands that inquirers become sensitive to the character and purposes of a God worthy of worship, in a manner that challenges and reorients human inquirers.

Lecture 1: Divine Severity
The first lecture clarifies and develops the problem of divine severity with attention to our understanding of the notion of a God worthy of worship.

Lecture 2: "Human Expectations of God"
The second lecture identifies some expectation-evoking questions that elicit sound expectations regarding God and God′s ways of intervention in human lives. Many people have misguided expectations about God, and therefore would benefit from questions that prompt careful reflection on their expectations of God. Philosophers and theologians have given inadequate attention to such questions about God, particularly in connection with the problem of divine severity. The lectures will correct these deficiencies.