Past PHRE Conference – 2017

Truman State University’s
28th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy and Religion Conference

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Unless otherwise noted, all sessions will take place in the Alumni Room of the Student Union Building on the Truman State University campus.


9:00 am           Greetings and Opening Remarks

Dereck Daschke, Professor of Philosophy & Religion


9:05-9:35         Devin Gant, Truman State University, Kirksville Missouri

A Critique of the Judeo-Christian Identity

This research is an ongoing effort into studying what is Jewish about the Judeo-Christian Identity. The basic premise is that unless there are distinctly Jewish elements present, this is ultimately a Christian identity and not one that can claim legitimate Jewish affiliation. The three areas focused on to test the legitimacy are the origin of the phrase in comparison to how it is used today, any flaws in the usage of this phrase, and the ties to the Holocaust that seem to be the basis for the adoption of the Judeo portion of this phrase instead of a different term.


9:35-10:05       Morgan Van Vleck, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri

What if it isn’t a Problem at All?

This piece explores Jewish theodicy through examining rabbinic thought on the book of Job and the Problem of Evil in order to reveal ways in which Jewish people move beyond this problem and understand the role of God in their lives. Despite views that suggest the Book of Job and the Problem of Evil present a dismal case for God’s goodness, Jewish thinkers put forth a view that renders the Problem of Evil hardly a problem at all, giving insight to both insiders and outsiders of Judaism.


10:05-10:15     BREAK


10:15-10:45     Hannah Pohl, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri

Feminism in Jewish Orthodoxy

This paper’s purpose is to illustrate the various ways in which feminism is expressed in Jewish Orthodoxy. Through the use of scholarly works, testimonies, and reforms, progressive feminism on the topics of education, fertility-reproduction, and traditional nuclear family values are discussed. These topics serve as a platform that women who practice Orthodox Jewry want equality within their faith. Orthodox women face the question of how to remain faithful to Judaism while also fighting for their rights as women. A much deeper understanding of what it means to be a feminist while also living faithfully as a member of the Jewish Orthodox community is conceptualized in this essay.


10:45-11:15     Sierra Twesten, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

Desensitizing Our Consumption: An Ethical Discussion of the Intersection between Racism and Sexism

As the world becomes increasingly more interconnected, acknowledging the treatment of others has become ever more relevant. By engaging Carol J. Adams The Sexual Politics of Meat with other relevant culture references, an analyzation of how the English language objectifies both women and animals is created. While there is no easy solution to sexism or speciesism, by creating an ethical discussion of their intersection, it is possible to begin to break down social and cultural assumptions, reverse desensitization to injustice, and step forward toward equality.


11:15-11:45 Leo Grantham, Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Missouri

Socially Engaged Buddhism and Peace Building in Sri Lanka

My paper examines the roots of the ethnic tensions that caused the civil Sri Lankan conflict and the ways that Buddhist history in the country contributed to the conflict, as well as the significance of Buddhism on Sinhalese identity. I then examine the ways in which Socially Engaged Buddhism was used as a peace building tool in the region and evaluate the effectiveness of this in ending the conflict.


11:45am-1:00pm        LUNCH


1:00-2:00         HENRY SMITS LECTURE

Don Viney, Professor of Philosophy, Pittsburg State University

Jules Lequyer: Unsung Prophet of Open Theism


2:15-2:45         Julia Waernerup, Lindenwood University, Saint Charles, Missouri

Finding the Balance between Predestination and Free Will

This research paper interrogates the apparent tension between predestination and free will in the Christian and Islamic faiths. Predestination and free will are often used as two mutually exclusive concepts. This creates a struggle to find a balance between the two that does not negate the importance of one or the other. The paper aims to examine how Christianity attempts to solve this issue by closely examining Calvin and Aquinas’s theology. The paper then focuses on how Islam solves the same issue and the main differences between the Islamic and the Christian concept of predestination.


2:45-3:15         Lauren Baker, Lindenwood University Saint Charles, Missouri

Angels and Jinn: A Compare and Contrast Paper on Supernatural Beings in Christianity and Islam

This research paper attempts to understand how two world religions: Christianity and Islam understand supernatural beings. Both faiths recognize angels while only Islam acknowledges the existence of jinn. The differences in angels in these two religions are minor. However, the differences between angels and jinn, how they are understood, and the purpose they serve within their traditions is drastic. This paper first presents how scholars developed angelic hierarchies in Christianity, then how Muslims have understood jinn, and finally compares and contrasts the development and functions of these beings.


3:15-3:45         Kaitlyn Centini, Lindenwood University, Saint Charles, Missouri

Penance: A Tale of Corruption

“Penance: A Tale of Corruption” tells the story of disunity and corruption for European Christianity in the late fourteenth through early fifteenth centuries. Corruption within the church was spread throughout, however, the sacrament of penance in particular characterizes the church’s disorder during the period. Martin Luther launches his attack against the corruptions of the Roman church in his 95 Theses, which he nailed to the church doors in Wittenberg 500 years ago. This paper explains the origins of corruption in the Roman church and reexamines the work of Protestant and Catholic reform movements that occurred as a result.


3:45-4:00         BREAK


4:00-4:30         Lukas J. Myers, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois

Epistemology from Passivity: An Argument against the Position of Complete Skepticism of an External World

This paper attempts to reexamine through a semi-contemporary lens, the issue of skepticism and solipsism as portrayed by the Modern Rationalists (Descartes) and Empiricists (Berkeley, Hume, Locke). The issue in Modern dealt with the skepticism of the external world, and the problem of true Hard Solipsism. The relation of our experiencing the outside world, compared to how the outside world “really is”. This examination centers around the perceiving “Self” of Modern Epistemological theorizing. Within their analysis, I argue, the principle of Passivity of experience, seems to already curb some of the more extreme skeptical doubts of Descartes and Hume.


4:30-5:00         Alex Balogh, Lindenwood University, Saint Charles, Missouri

I’m Not the Me I Used to Be: A Meditation on the Concept of Self

The Western idea of a substantial self can’t be sustained, and we can gain a fuller understanding of human nature if we broaden our discussion to account for the property of “me-ness” (our own sense of individuality, as well as what actually differentiates us as individuals) as an integral quality of our being. It is paradoxical — although we each have a strong perception of me-ness that imparts a sense of value and helps us negotiate and transcend the world, it changes over time and it is difficult to point to anything that retains it.



And if you are staying in Kirksville Saturday night….

Join us for a musical performance with singer-songwriter Don Viney
Saturday, November 11
7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
in the theater at Take Root Café
114 W. Harrison St., Downtown Kirksville

Sponsored by the Truman State University Department of Philosophy and Religion
Free and open to the public