Faculty Profiles

Robert O'Connor Headshot

Robert O'Connor, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy

On Faculty since 1989


My personal moments are largely, and happily, consumed by the various activities of my four children, from soccer, gymnastics and track, to band, orchestra and jazz ensemble. I remain very active with my church; I love to pique adult interests in deep issues of the faith, especially those requiring a modicum of philosophical analysis. As for personal time, I occasionally get a chance to play a round of golf with my father-in-law, and recently fulfilled a life-long dream by purchasing an old, beat-up, 16 Hobie Cat. That would be me, flying the hull of my Hobie off the shore of Lake Michigan.

University of Notre Dame
Ph.D., Philosophy, 1989

Western Kentucky University
M.A., Humanities, 1983

Wheaton College
B.A., Philosophy/Biblical Studies, 1979

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Contemporary American Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • American Philosophical Association
  • Philosophy of Science Association
  • Society of Christian Philosophers

Among Theistic Evolutionists, Still No Consensus on What's Wrong with Stephen Meyer's Argument
Evolution News and Views

Bishop's latest review is noteworthy for its concession that Meyer does not in fact make a "God of the gaps" argument. He also acknowledges that Meyer's is not an "argument from ignorance." Along with Wheaton College philosopher Robert O'Connor, Bishop writes that "Meyer deftly dispatches...the misconception that [intelligent design] engages in crude god-of-the-gaps reasoning or presents a simplistic argument from ignorance."
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Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution Go Toe-to-Toe at Wheaton College
Evolution News and Views

No bloody noses, no cut lips -- just a frank exchange of views, over two days last week, to a packed house in the Coray Auditorium: most sessions had 500+ people, many from outside Illinois, in the audience. Sponsored by the Wheaton College Biology and Science Departments (as well as other Wheaton programs), the conference featured -- on the ID side -- Mike Behe, Fuz Rana, Jack Collins, Paul Nelson, and Rick Sternberg, and on the BioLogos side, Kathryn Applegate, Darrel Falk, and Jeff Schloss. Alvin Plantinga led off with a session on "science and theology as ways of knowing," with commentary from Wheaton faculty Bob O'Connor and Robert Bishop (both from the Philosophy Department) and Pattle Pun (Biology).
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Adam: First Person Singular. Creating the "I"
Humanities Brown Bag Seminar, Wheaton College

C.S. Peirce on the Origins of Self-Consciousness, or Why Darwin Doesn't Matter
Evangelical Philosophical Society, Eastern Regional Meeting, Nyack College, NY

Design's Debt to Value
Symposium on Science & Religion, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

One Long Stroll
Religion Department Lecture Series: "Searching the Sacred", Hope College, Holland, MI

Life is Beautiful
Philosophy Major Chapel Address, Wheaton College

Intelligent Design
Presentation, Wheaton College Board of Visitors, Wheaton College

The Philosophy of Science and the Integration of Faith with Learning
Presentations, Faculty Faith and Learning Seminar, Wheaton College

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Science and Christian Belief
  • Postmodernism
  • Pragmatism
  • Contemporary Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
  • Contemporary American Philosophy
  • Pragmatism
  • Nature of Persons
  • Introduction to the Cognitive and Neurosciences (team taught)
  • Introduction to Logic
  • Symbolic Logic
  • Ethics, Law, and Society/Contemporary Moral Problems
  • Issues and Worldviews in Philosophy
  • Freshman Experience
  • Independent Studies/Honors Theses (numerous)

My research interests lie at the intersection of the sciences with religious belief. In particular, I'm struck by the extent to which insights into the methods of scientific research shed light on the epistemic status of our religious beliefs. In particular, I find that the types of arguments on offer for scientific realism provide a very useful template for a form of theological realism. This project requires comparing the relevant criteria of assessment in each domain, as well as the availability of evidence for each.

The discussion of the relation between science and religion has also lead me to consider the specific claims of the "intelligent design" argument. I have been a long-time "friendly critic" of intelligent design and look to contribute further clarity to that discussion.

What Are the Philosophical Implications of Christianity for the Natural Sciences?, Not Just Science: Questions Where Christian Faith and Natural Science Intersect
E. David Cook and Robert C. O'Connor
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005): 48-60.

The Design Inference: Old Wine in New Wineskins, God and Design
Neil Manson (ed.)
(London and New York: Routledge, 2003): 66-87.

Criteria of Success in Science and Theology, Science and Christian Belief
Robert C. O'Connor
10.1 (April, 1998): 21-40.

Science on Trial: Exploring the Rationality of Methodological Naturalism, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation
Robert C. O'Connor
49.1 (March, 1997): 15-30.