William L. Rowe

William L. Rowe

William Leonard Rowe (born 1931) is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Purdue University who specialises in the philosophy of religion. His work has played a leading role in the "remarkable revival of analytic philosophy of religion since the 1970s". [cite encyclopedia| first=Nick |last=Trakakis |authorlink=Nick Trakakis |title=ROWE, William Leonard |encyclopedia=Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers |editor=John R. Shook |publisher=Thoemmes Press |year=2005 |id=ISBN 1843710374] He is most notable for his formulation of the evidential argument from evil. [cite encyclopedia |first=Nick |last=Trakakis |authorlink=Nick Trakakis |title=The Evidential Problem of Evil |url=http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evil-evi.htm#H2 |encyclopedia=Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy |year=2006 |accessdate=2007-04-20]


According to Rowe, he became an evangelical Christian during his teenage years and planned to become a minister, eventually enrolling at the Detroit Bible Institute for his collegiate education. He later transferred to Wayne State University.

After his graduation from Wayne State, Rowe began his post-graduate education at the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). He reports that it was at this time he began to take a more critical look at the Bible, learn about its origins and meet theologians who, unlike himself, did not have a fundamentalist perspective. The result was that his own fundamentalism began to wane.

He received a Master of Divinity degree from CTS, and then went on to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan. He completed his doctorate in 1962, taught briefly at the University of Illinois and later that year, joined the faculty of Purdue University.

Rowe has described his conversion from Christian fundamentalist to, ultimately, an atheist as a gradual process, resulting from "the lack of experiences and evidence sufficient to sustain my religious life and my religious convictions." He has said that his examination of the origins of the Bible caused him to doubt its being divine in nature, and that he then began to look and pray for signs of the existence of God. "But in the end, I had no more sense of the presence of God than I had before my [evangelical] conversion experience. So, it was the absence of religious experiences of the appropriate kind that . . . left me free to seriously explore the grounds for disbelief," Rowe has said. [Citation
title=Purdue philosophy professor a gentle atheist
newspaper=Terre Haute Tribune-Star
date=April 1, 2005

Friendly atheism

Rowe introduced the concept of a "friendly atheist" in his classic paper on the argument from evil. A friendly atheist is a person who accepts that some theists are justified in believing in God, even if it is the case that God doesn't exist. This view is criticized by atheist philosopher Michael Martin. [cite web | first=Michael |last=Martin |authorlink=Michael Martin |title=Friendly Atheism |year=1996 |url=http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/friendly.html |accessdate=2007-04-20] One consequence of Rowe's philosophical friendliness is his adherence to the principle of charity. [cite web |first=Keith |last=Burgess-Jackson |title=Book Review |publisher=Philosophy @ UTA blog |url=http://philosophyatuta.blogspot.com/2006/11/book-review.html |accessdate=2007-04-20] He has published in defence of theist arguments, and is even considered a supporter of the cosmological argument. [cite encyclopedia |first=Charles |last=Taliaferro |title=Philosophy of Religion |encyclopedia=Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy |url=http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/philosophy-religion/ |accessdate=2007-04-20]


Influential papers

* “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism” (1979)


* "The Cosmological Argument". Princeton University Press, 1975. ISBN 0823218856.
* "Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction". Wadsworth Publishing, 1978. ISBN 0495007250.
* "Thomas Reid on Freedom and Morality". Cornell University Press, 1991. ISBN 0801425573.
* "Can God Be Free?" Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0199204128.

About his work

* Trakakis, Nick. "The God Beyond Belief: In Defence of William Rowe's Evidential Argument from Evil". Springer, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4020-5144-9.

Notes and references

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