The commercials on KSKA (I know they call them sponsor messages or some other euphemism, but they are still commercials) announced that a famous philosopher would talk on "The Unknowability of God."
When Denys Turner came to the mic Friday evening in the packed room at UAA's library, he apologized. He'd prepared for a talk to maybe ten philosophers, not to a large crowd with lots of non-philosophers. And so he was going to read his paper which, he warned, would be a bit more dry than people might be expecting from the topic title.
Fortunately, the sound of the words rolling off his Irish tongue were a music all of its own, even if you didn't keep up with the lyrics. Basically, he was arguing that his adopted field - theology - was finally catching up with the rest of the academic disciplines (and some of their own medieval practitioners) in recognizing that some thing were simply unknowable, indeterminate.
This was the opening of the UAA Philosophy Department's 6th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference.
One of the issues that arose was the inadequacy of human language to talk about these topics. I wondered whether it wasn't also the inadequacy of the human brain. After all, dogs probably just don't have the mental capacity to a lot of things humans can do. I'm guessing humans haven't evolved enough to grasp some of these things.
In the video Turner is responding to a question: "How is a negative theologian different from an atheist?"
Fortunately, I didn't say anything snarky about the speaker to my wife during the talk, because it turned out that the woman we squeezed in behind in the packed room was Turner's wife with whom we had an enjoyable chat after the talk.
And one comment about the room. UAA's library addition has rounded corners and leans out toward the world. I've been to a number of talks and meetings in this room (Library 307) and I think its slightly amphitheater shape adds greatly to any talk in the room. For me, round rooms are wonderful spaces. This room isn't round, but it is at least rounded.