student profile: Mr Raphael Lataster

MA (Studies in Religion, Sydney)
Teaching Fellow
PhD Candidate


Website www.RaphaelLataster.com

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Biographical details

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.

Research interests

  • 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 work

Thesis title: God�s Intellectual Battles: William Lane Craig, Philosophical Arguments, and Public Engagement

Supervisors: Carole CUSACK

Thesis abstract:

In the early twenty-first 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’s case for Christian theism, are analysed in this thesis, in order to determine if they are persuasive. Further consideration is given to the sociological impact of the indefatigable William Lane Craig in the public sphere, including his tactics in engaging with his vocal opponents and the general public.

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, deism, pantheism, and pandeism are considered. Several of these positions, it is argued, are 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 insidious.

Current projects

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.

Associations

  • 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

Selected publications

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Books

  • Lataster, R., Carrier, R. (2015). Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Lataster, R. (2014). There was no Jesus, there is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence and Arguments for Monotheism. Charleston, Sc: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Journals

  • Lataster, R. (2017). The (Overwhelming) Improbability of Classical (and Christian) Theism. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 25(1). [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2016). On Richard Swinburne and the Failings of Christian Theistic Evidentialism. Literature and Aesthetics, 26, 23-40.
  • Lataster, R. (2015). A Philosophical and Historical Analysis of William Lane Craig's Resurrection of Jesus Argument. Think: Philosophy for Everyone, 14(39), 59-71. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Pantheistic God-Concepts: Ancient, Contemporary, Popular, and Plausible Alternatives to Classical Theism. Literature and Aesthetics, 25, 65-82. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories: A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources. Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies, 6(1), 64-96.
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Theists Misrepresenting Panentheism-Another Reply to Benedikt Paul Gocke. Sophia, 54(1), 93-98. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2014). A Superscientific Definition of 'Religion' and a Clarification of Richard Dawkins' New Atheism. Literature and Aesthetics, 24(2), 109-124.
  • Lataster, R. (2014). The Attractiveness of Panentheism: A Reply to Benedikt Paul Göcke. Sophia, 53(3), 389-395. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2014). The Forth Quest: A Critical Analysis of the Recent Literature on Jesus' (a)Historicity. Literature and Aesthetics, 24(1), 1-28.
  • Lataster, R. (2013). Bayesian Reasoning: Criticising the 'Criteria of Authenticity' and Calling for a Review of Biblical Criticism. Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, 5(2), 271-293.
  • Lataster, R. (2013). New Theologians, New Atheists and Public Engagement. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review, 4(1), 70-91.

Other

  • Lataster, R. (2013), Is There a Christian Agenda Behind Religious Studies Departments?. [More Information]

2017

  • Lataster, R. (2017). The (Overwhelming) Improbability of Classical (and Christian) Theism. Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, 25(1). [More Information]

2016

  • Lataster, R. (2016). On Richard Swinburne and the Failings of Christian Theistic Evidentialism. Literature and Aesthetics, 26, 23-40.

2015

  • Lataster, R. (2015). A Philosophical and Historical Analysis of William Lane Craig's Resurrection of Jesus Argument. Think: Philosophy for Everyone, 14(39), 59-71. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R., Carrier, R. (2015). Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Pantheistic God-Concepts: Ancient, Contemporary, Popular, and Plausible Alternatives to Classical Theism. Literature and Aesthetics, 25, 65-82. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories: A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources. Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies, 6(1), 64-96.
  • Lataster, R. (2015). Theists Misrepresenting Panentheism-Another Reply to Benedikt Paul Gocke. Sophia, 54(1), 93-98. [More Information]

2014

  • Lataster, R. (2014). A Superscientific Definition of 'Religion' and a Clarification of Richard Dawkins' New Atheism. Literature and Aesthetics, 24(2), 109-124.
  • Lataster, R. (2014). The Attractiveness of Panentheism: A Reply to Benedikt Paul Göcke. Sophia, 53(3), 389-395. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2014). The Forth Quest: A Critical Analysis of the Recent Literature on Jesus' (a)Historicity. Literature and Aesthetics, 24(1), 1-28.
  • Lataster, R. (2014). There was no Jesus, there is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence and Arguments for Monotheism. Charleston, Sc: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

2013

  • Lataster, R. (2013). Bayesian Reasoning: Criticising the 'Criteria of Authenticity' and Calling for a Review of Biblical Criticism. Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, 5(2), 271-293.
  • Lataster, R. (2013), Is There a Christian Agenda Behind Religious Studies Departments?. [More Information]
  • Lataster, R. (2013). New Theologians, New Atheists and Public Engagement. Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review, 4(1), 70-91.

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.