April 25, 2011 | Theo Voss

Alvin Plantinga is on the bill at Calvin's third-annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.

Calvin College's third-annual undergraduate philosophy conference will take place on Friday, April 29th and Saturday April 30th. “I’ve actually been contacted by several of the students who participated in last year’s conference… They enjoyed the conference so much that they want to come back just to be part of it,” said Chad McIntosh, one of the student organizers for the event.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Alvin Plantinga, a Calvin graduate and professor, renowned for his philosophical arguments that support Christianity and theistic belief. Plantinga will argue against the idea that humans are just material objects during his keynote speech on Friday. His style will set an example of excellent philosophical argument that the student presenters on Saturday will attempt to follow.

The student organizers of the conference, sophomore Noah Caweay, senior Emi Okayasu and McIntosh, were excited when he graciously agreed to participate. “It wasn’t until I was convinced that Christianity was philosophically respectable that I could give my life to Christ,” McIntosh said.  “The work of Alvin Plantinga was pretty essential to that process.”

Open to the public

The conference is open to the public and attracts students from all over the United States. “So many philosophy conferences for undergraduates simply provide a place for students to quickly read a paper, and then everyone moves on to another paper without any opportunity to discuss the content,” said Michael Sanford, one of the student presenters at last year’s conference.

Calvin’s undergraduate philosophy conference is different.

Saturday will be broken up into six student presentations, which will be held in the Covenant Fine Arts Center lecture hall. During each presentation, the student will read his paper for 30–45 minutes, and a commentator, who read the paper in advance, will give constructive criticism of the argument. Following this, the audience will have 20– 35 minutes to further pursue the paper topic.

“Because Calvin College has chosen to organize their undergraduate conference in this manner, keeping papers to a minimum and truly discussing the thought that has gone into each paper, this conference is quickly becoming what I think will be a very prestigious undergraduate conference,” said Sanford, a student at Grand Valley State University. “The standards have been set high, and if that is maintained in future years, Calvin’s undergraduate philosophy conference will be a shining star in the undergraduate philosophy conference world. I for one am honored to be a part of the history of this conference.”

Alvin Plantinga

Student presenters for the undergraduate philosophy conference:


Brian Schimpf (Ball State University), “Thoughts and Qualifications on Transcendental Arguments”

Ryan Austin (Huntington University), 2“Temporal Parts and the Status of Personhood of the Unborn and the Undead”

Andrew Brenner (University of North Florida), “Do A-Theories of Time Entail a Finite Past?”

Kevin Dupree (University of Central Florida), “Virgil's Lesson for Mariology: A Response to Dennett's Physicalist Account of Mary's First Experience of Color”

Timothy Cuffman (Cedarville University), "Redeeming (Rhizomatic) Enclaves”

Drew Hiller (St. Louis University) “Beauty in the Musical Experience: Understanding Varieties of Aesthetic Judgment”


For more details visit their website.

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