Mr Raphael Lataster
MA (Studies in Religion, Sydney)
Raphael Lataster is a Teaching Fellow, PhD Candidate, and research assistant in the Department of Studies in Religion. Raphael’s doctoral research analyses the major philosophical arguments for God’s existence (as argued by William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne and Thomas Aquinas), attempts to demonstrate the logical improbability of theism, explores the theological tendencies of Philosophy of Religion, and considers the plausibility of pantheistic worldviews. Being one of the few Studies in Religion scholars to employ an evaluative approach, Raphael has published extensively on the possibility of Jesus’ non-existence (the subject of his MA dissertation), the implausibility of theism, and the relative plausibilities of alternative god-models, such as deism and panentheism. Apart from his research, Raphael contributes extensively to the Academy, through his journal editing, article refereeing, digitisation projects, symposium organisation, and teaching. Raphael also serves the broader community, via popular-level publications, public lectures, debates, and volunteer work. His popular book, there was no Jesus, there is no God, received numerous positive reviews from both scholars and laypersons, and has been followed up by Jesus Did Not Exist.
- Non-mainstream religions and alternative god-models
- Analytical philosophy of religion
- Jesus ahistoricity theories
- Method and critical theory in the study of religion
- Philosophical logic and Bayesian reasoning
- Secularism and the New Atheists
Teaching and supervision
Raphael teaches several units in Studies in Religion, including RLST1002 A History of God, Deities and Demons, RLST1005 Atheism, Fundamentalism and New Religions, RLST3602, and RLST4011.
Thesis title: GOD'S INTELLECTUAL BATTLES: WILLIAM LANE CRAIG, PHILOSOPHICAL ARGUMENTS, AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTSupervisors: Carole CUSACK
In the early 21st Century, public discussions about God have moved on from simplistic ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons. Modern Christian theological scholars are now presenting much more sophisticated and respectable justifications for their believing in God. These Biblical scholars and philosophers of religion present numerous philosophical arguments in the hope that audiences will find them reason enough to accept that God exists, and then present historical arguments centred on Jesus of Nazareth, in order to demonstrate the exclusive truth of the Christian faith. The arguments of these scholars, with particular focus on William Lane Craig, are analysed in this thesis, in order to determine if they are persuasive. Further consideration is given to the sociological impact of William Lane Craig in the public sphere, including his tactics in engaging with the public and with his vocal opponents. The actions and perceptions of the New Atheists, who often lack the expertise or even the desire to comprehensively deal with such arguments, are also briefly considered.
It is contended that the arguments put forth by Christian evidentialists such as William Lane Craig are unconvincing. The reasons for their failure are numerous. For example, many of the premises are asserted without adequate justification, and are thus rejected by opponents. It is revealed that the majority of the arguments are not only unpersuasive, but also technically irrelevant, in that they do not argue for the existence of the specific god of theism, or the exclusive truth of any one religion. The only truly relevant arguments – which centre on Jesus – are found to be logically fallacious and to rely on the misuse and misunderstanding of critical historical and probabilistic methods. Alternative god-models such as polytheism, pantheism, and pandeism are considered, with several argued as being more plausible than the classical theism of Christian evidentialists such as Craig. Public perceptions of the influential Craig are largely found to be positive, even among some non-believers, and it is concluded that the public dissemination of his fallacious arguments and methods should be regarded as harmful.
Raphael is working on the relative plausibilities of theistic, naturalistic, and alternative worldviews. He is also involved in organising speaking tours and symposia, involving prominent New Atheists and renowned local and international scholars.
- Member of The Australasian Philosophy of Religion Association (APRA)
Awards and honours
- 2015 – Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Teaching
- 2016 – FASS Teaching Fellowship
In the media
- Wiki page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Lataster
Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015)
There was no Jesus, there is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence and Arguments for Monotheism (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014)