Nick Trakakis is a philosopher at the Australian Catholic University, where he is Assistant Director of the recently established Centre for Philosophy and Phenomenology of Religion. He has previously taught at Monash University and Deakin University, and during 2006–2007 he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame. He works mainly at the intersections of philosophy (in both the analytic and Continental traditions), religion, and theology.
Nick Trakakis completed a Bachelor of Theology degree at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College (Sydney, Australia) and a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of New England, Australia, before going on to receive a First Class Honours in Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. His doctoral research, undertaken at Monash University, concentrated on the so-called ‘evidential problem of evil’, that is, the problem of determining whether the existence of human and animal suffering provides good evidence against the existence of God. A revised version of his thesis was published by Springer under the title of The God Beyond Belief.
In a number of journal articles and in his recent monograph, The God Beyond Belief, Trakakis considers various aspects of the evidential problem of evil, particularly as this has been formulated and developed by William Rowe. Trakakis has also written about such topics in the philosophy of religion as the omnipotence of God, determinist models of divine providence, Wittgensteinian non-realism, and the doctrine of karma. In theology and church history, he has published his views on the ordination of women, the infallibility of the church, the iconoclast controversy, and the work of Gregory Palamas.
The evidential argument from evil
The main conclusion reached by Trakakis is that Rowe’s evidential argument from evil, or a version thereof, succeeds in showing that the existence of certain kinds of evil provides strong evidence against the existence of God. The possibility, however, is always left open that there may well be other evidence in support of the existence of God which outweighs or defeats the evidence of evil.
Trakakis argues that there is no good reason to accept the currently popular ‘sceptical theist’ response to the evidential problem of evil – that is, the response that we do not know, and we cannot be expected to know, what God’s reasons are for permitting evil. Trakakis has, for example, argued that the sceptical theist position of Kirk Durston — a position which maintains that the complexity of history is such that we cannot pass judgement on the overall moral value of any particular historical event — leads to an implausible form of moral scepticism.
Trakakis also maintains that some of the major theodicies that have been offered by theists (e.g., the free will theodicy, the soul-making theodicy) fail to explain why God would permit various types of evil, particularly ‘natural evil’ or suffering brought about by natural processes (e.g., natural disasters). However, he does believe that the free-will theodicy may succeed in explaining at least some kinds of moral evil. On this issue, Joel Thomas Tierno has argued against Trakakis that human freedom alone can not account for all instances of moral evil, given the scale on which we find it distributed in the world.
In his current research, Trakakis is exploring various approaches to the philosophy of religion, focusing in particular on analytic and Continental approaches. He has also published two volumes of poetry and philosophical reflections, Tears (2005) and Silent Transfigurations (2006), with a third volume (Via Dolorosa) forthcoming.
- “An Epistemically Distant God? A Critique of John Hick’s Response to the Problem of Divine Hiddenness”, The Heythrop Journal 48 (2007): 214-26.
- “Rowe’s New Evidential Argument from Evil: Problems and Prospects”, Sophia: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysical Theology and Ethics, vol. 45, no. 1, May 2006, pp. 57–77.
- “An Interview with the Very Rev. Dr. Themistocles Adamopoulo, Apostle to the Poor and Oppressed”, Theandros: An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy, vol. 3, no. 2, Winter 2005/2006. (Available online)
- William Rowe on Philosophy of Religion: Selected Works (Editor), Ashgate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0-7546-5558-X.
- The God Beyond Belief: In Defence of William Rowe’s Evidential Argument from Evil. Springer, 2006. ISBN 1-4020-5144-1.
- Silent Transfigurations. Southwood Press, 2006. ISBN 0-646-46229-6.
- Tears: 1993-2005. ISBN 0-646-44954-0.
Notes and references
- "The Centre for Philosophy of Religion: Fellows". University of Notre Dame. Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-05-04.
- "The God Beyond Belief: About this book". Springer. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- Durston, Kirk (March 2006). "The complexity of history and evil: a reply to Trakakis". Religious Studies 42 (1): 87–99. doi:10.1017/S0034412505008139.
- Trakakis, Nick (March 2006). "Why there is reason to remain sceptical of Durston's scepticism". Religious Studies 42 (1): 101–109. doi:10.1017/S0034412505008140..
- Trakakis, Nick (February 2005). "Is theism capable of accounting for any natural evil at all?". International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 57 (1): 35–66. doi:10.1007/s11153-004-5895-6.
- Tierno, Joel Thomas (October 2006). "On the Alleged Connection Between Moral Evil and Human Freedom: A Response To Trakakis’ Second Critique". Sophia 45 (2): 131. doi:10.1007/BF02782488.
- Web page at Monash. Includes a more complete list of publication.
- "The Evidential Problem of Evil". His article at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.