Greg Dawes

  Philosophy, University of Otago  

Greg Dawes

BTheol, PGDip Theol, PhD (Otago), SSL (Rome, Pont. Bib. Inst.)



Greg gained his first graduate degree at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome before returning to New Zealand to complete a PhD in Biblical Studies at the University of Otago. He has recently completed a second PhD, in the philosophy of religion, while continuing to teach in both Religious Studies and Philosophy. Having two young daughters, he is continually reminded of the truth of Quine's remark that the major questions of philosophy are asked by age five.


PHIL 229 Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 329 Philosophy of Religion


I have a particular interest in the methodological naturalism or (more precisely) the methodological atheism of the modern sciences. In both history and the natural and social sciences, no proposed explanation that appealed to a divine action would be taken seriously. The creationist and intelligent design movements of today question this stance, arguing that it arises from nothing more than atheist prejudice.

My recent PhD examined and rejected this claim, arguing that the methodological naturalism of the sciences is well founded. Even if appeal to a divine agent could be shown to have explanatory force, there would still be reason to prefer a natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation.

My earlier work focused on the assumptions that underlie the historical Jesus debate. The interesting philosophical question here is: What happens when religious and theological explanatory claims come into conflict? More precisely, what happens to religious belief when the phenomenon of religion itself can be explained without reference to God?

Publications include


Gregory W. Dawes, Theism and Explanation (New York: Routledge 2009)

Gregory W. Dawes, The Body in Question: Metaphor and Meaning in the Interpretation of Ephesians 5:21–33 Biblical Interpretation Series (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2001)

Gregory W. Dawes, The Historical Jesus Question: The Challenge of History to Religious Authority (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001)

Edited Books

Dawes, Gregory W. & Maclaurin, James (eds.) (2012). A New Science of Religion. Routledge.

Gregory W. Dawes (ed.), The Historical Jesus Quest: Landmarks in the Search for the Jesus of History (Leiden: Deo Publishing, 1999 / Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2000).

Book Chapters

'Religion without God?' In A Religious Atheist? Critical Essays on the Work of Lloyd Geering , edited by Raymond Pelly and Peter Stuart. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2006: 111-123.

'Religious Studies and the Presumption of Naturalism' In What Is Religion For? Proceedings of the NZASR Biennial Conference, Wellington 2002 , edited by Joseph Bulbulia and Paul Morris. Wellington: Victoria University, 2004: 193-210

'The Sense of the Past in the New Testament and the Qur'an.' In Islamic and Christian Cultures: Conflict or Dialogue? Bulgarian Philosophical Studies III, edited by Plamen Makariev. Washington, DC: Council for Research in Values & Philosophy, 2001: 9-3 [ ]

Refereed Articles

Dawes, Gregory W. (2013). Belief is not the issue: A defence of inference to the best explanation. Ratio 26 (1):62-78.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2012). Evolution and the Bible: The Hermeneutical Question. Relegere 2:37-63.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2012). Justified Believing:Avoiding the Paradox. In James Maclaurin (ed.),Rationis Defensor: Essays in Honour of Colin Cheyne.Springer.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2011). In defense of naturalism. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (1):3-25.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2011). Understanding Naturalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):757-758.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2007) 'Can a Darwinian be a Christian?' Religion Compass 2 (2007).

Dawes, Gregory W. (2007) 'Paradigmatic Explanations: David Friedrich Strauss's Dangerous Idea.' Louvain Studies 32 (1-2) (2007): 67-80. [ ]

Dawes, Gregory W. (2007) 'What is Wrong with Intelligent Design?' International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 61 (2007): 69-81.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2006) 'Why Historicity Still Matters: Raymond Brown and the Infancy Narratives.' Pacifica 19 (2006): 156-76.

Dawes, Gregory W. (2003) 'Religious Studies, Faith, and the Presumption of Naturalism.' Journal of Religion and Society 5 (2003).

Dawes, Gregory W. (2002) 'Could There Be Another Galileo Case? Galileo, Augustine and Vatican II.' Journal of Religion and Society 4 (2002).

Dawes, Gregory W. (2002) 'God Beyond Theism? Bishop Spong, Paul Tillich, and the Unicorn.' Pacifica 15 (2002): 65-71.

Dawes, Gregory W. (1996) 'Derrida among the Teachers of the Law: Deconstruction and Biblical Studies.' Pacifica 9 (1996): 301-309.

Dawes, Gregory W. (1996) 'Religious Studies and Theology in the University: "Some Ambiguities" Revisited.' Religion: a Journal of Religion and Religions 26 (1996): 49-68.

Dawes, Gregory W. (1996) 'The Danger of Idolatry: 1 Cor 8:7-13.' Catholic Biblical Quarterly 56 (1996): 82-98.

Dawes, Gregory W. (1994) 'Analogies, Metaphors and Women as Priests.' Pacifica 7 (1994): 47-58.

Dawes, Gregory W. (1990) 'But if you can gain your freedom' (1 Cor 7:17-24).' Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52/4 (1990): 681-697.

Encyclopedia Entry

Gregory W. Dawes, ‘Ernst Troeltsch’ in Jesus in History, Culture and Thought – An Encyclopedia edited by Leslie Houlden (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003): 2:855-57.