Peter van Inwagen (b. 1942) is a well respected philosopher and a leading thinker in analytic philosophy, especially in the branches of metaphysics and the philosophy of religion (1).
He is the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and the Research Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He has taught at Syracuse University, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005), was the president of the Society of Christian Philosophers (2010-2013), and was President of the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association (2008-2009).
Van Inwagen most notable contributions have been on the topic of free will. His work has proven very influential and has influenced the philosophical discussion on problem of free will and determinism. He is critical of determinism, the “the thesis that the past determines a unique future,” and believes in moral responsibility although the idea of free will remains a mystery to him. Van Inwagen has also debated the idea of the afterlife, the resurrection of the body, and the problem of evil. His literary works range from Christian apologetics to ontology and metaphysics.
Van Inwagen has authored several crucial works on these topics. The Possibility Of Resurrection And Other Essays In Christian Apologetics (1997) explains his conversion to Christianity at the age of 40. He also attempts to answer philosophical objections to Christianity, especially those that he encountered in certain intellectually hostile environments. He thus engages the arguments for and against the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the problem of evil, the argument against miracles as presented by Scottish philosopher David Hume, and others. The Problem of Evil (2008) looks at the problem of suffering especially in light of the existence of an all-powerful and benevolent creator God. Van Inwagen argues that the fact that the world contains a vast amount of suffering does not show that God does not exist. Existence: Essays in Ontology (2014) explores the nature of being which was central to ancient and medieval philosophy. It engages a wide range of topics from ontological commitment, the concept of ontological structure, fictional entities, and much more.
1. Closer To Truth. Van Inwagen: Philosopher, Notre Dame. Available.