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Charles Taliaferro

Biographical Introduction of Dr. Charles Taliaferro, Professor of Philosophy at St. Olaf College. His lecture entitled “The Different Worlds of Religious Rites: A Neglected Area of Philosophy of Religion,” the seventh in the Bethel Lectures in Philosophy Series, was delivered at Bethel College on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. AC 342.

Each year the Bethel Lectures in Philosophy series brings to our campus distinguished philosophers in various disciplines. Past lecturers have included Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, Brian Davies, Dallas Willard, and William Lane Craig.

This year we are privileged to have Charles Taliaferro, professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College. Charles holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Brown University; an M.T.S. from Harvard; an M.A. from the University of Rhode Island; and a B.A., Goddard College.  His specialization includes Ethics and Metaphysics with focuses on Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Religion.  He has taught at Oxford, Cambridge, the University of Massachusetts, Brown University, Notre Dame, New York University, and the University of Chicago.

Charles has published a number of books, including Evidence and Faith and Consciousness and the Mind of God (both with Cambridge University Press), and he is co-editor of The Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Blackwell) and Philosophy of Religion: A Reader (Blackwell). He has also published in journals such as Philosophical Quarterly and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and he is the current book review editor for Faith and Philosophy.

In addition to his scholarship, Charles enjoys writing for a popular readership. He has contributed to Open Court's and Blackwell's series of Philosophy and Popular Culture and he has published a collection of 43 essays on love entitled Love. Love. Love. And Other Essays.

On a personal note, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Charles on several projects recently and he is not only a brilliant scholar but extremely vivacious and a real joy to work with.  Here’s a quick story to give you a glimpse of his lively and cheerful character.  We were both at an American Academy of Religion conference in San Diego recently and Charles and I were at a talk in which the speaker said something like this to a group of male panelists (of which Charles was a part): “You all had problems with your fathers,” “You are banal and without passion.”  She then added: “When I see all of you, I want to get out my gun!” 

Now these guys on the panel were all really nice guys—tame philosophers to be sure.  And I don’t believe this German trained female scholar really wanted to harm anyone with a gun, but after her comments the room was so thick you could have cut through it with a knife.  Charles single-handedly brought sanity back to the discussion by asking—in the right tone, at the just right moment, and with a glimmer in his eye: “Where is the love”!  Everyone broke out in nervous laughter and the discussion was then able to continue.

In any event, Charles is a really great fellow and it is an honor to have him here with us tonight.  Please join me in welcoming to Bethel College Charles Taliaferro.

— Written and delivered by Professor Chad Meister