Hello (Again) Freethought Blogs!

Forgive me, long time readers (or, more precisely, readers from last week), because I’m about to mostly repeat myself in order to introduce myself to the many people who will be coming here for the first time today.  You can entertain yourselves in the meantime by perusing the other newly launched freethought blogs on the network using PZ’s handy list of links and introductions.

My name is Dan Fincke and I am truly delighted and honored to move my blog, Camels With Hammers to the Freethought Blogs network, which I am certain will become the center of the atheist blogosphere in no time.  I am extremely grateful to Ed and PZ for giving me this extraordinary opportunity.  And I am delighted to join all the other excellent bloggers on the network.  Many of my favorite bloggers are here (or will be here soon) and it is an honor to be their neighbors. Rather than obligatorily sing each of their praises one by one here, I will let the regular upcoming occasions to call attention to their work express my respect and enthusiasm for each of them.

So, about me: I have a PhD in philosophy, from Fordham University (2010) and I have 8 and a half years teaching experience at the university level.  I am an adjunct assistant professor at Hofstra and at the City University of New York Hunter College, and any given semester I may also be an adjunct professor at William Paterson University, St. John’s University, and Fairfield University.  I live in Manhattan but, as you see, teach all over the Tri-State area.  Of course nothing I write represents any of the views of any of these universities.  I am also happy to report that in all my years of studying and teaching at various Roman Catholic universities, there have never been any attempts to rein in the outspoken atheism of my scholarly work or blogging.

I wrote my dissertation on Nietzsche’s philosophy and metaethics.  I use this blog as a place to simultaneously educate a broader readership on philosophical issues and as a place to draft and get feedback on my nascent philosophical ideas before they are ready for peer review and publication in scholarly formats.

I also am passionate about the need for, and the value of, atheist activism.  I love relaying great resources for atheists and so enjoy aggregating interesting ideas and videos from around the web.  I also love personally being of philosophical help to everyday atheists in their efforts to combat religious sophistries and to clarify their own thinking on the philosophical issues that arise and become important to them through their debates with religious people.  For me, during my adolescence and undergraduate years at one of the nation’s most religiously and politically right wing colleges in America (Grove City College), religion and theology were the gateways to my interests in philosophical questions.  Unlike many atheists, I did not come to atheism through science but through philosophy, and I came to philosophy through religion.  I imagine many an atheist, even many of those who come to their atheism through science, becomes interested in philosophical questions through the need to answer religious insistence that they have developed answers to various metaphysical, epistemological, and metaethical/ethical questions.  I am here to do my atheistic, rigorously philosophical thinking on such questions out in the open in hopes of advancing the public debate and being a resource to fellow atheists in the process.

Part of this means that even though I consider this an activist blog, I also approach it with an academic mindset.  I want to ask challenging questions and challenge my fellow atheists as much as rally them.  I want to not just repackage and popularize existing atheist memes but to help push my fellow atheists to more nuanced positions.  I want to provoke and contribute to vigorous debates among atheists, as much as against theists.

Finally, I write long posts which I try to make rigorous and original as I can and I end nearly every post with a hopeful plea for Your Thoughts.  I read every reply and often base follow up posts on comments from readers on earlier posts.  I love using the blog as an interactive format to have open-ended conversations, in which I learn the most through having to answer challenging questions and retorts.  So, please do not be shy about chiming in in the comments section.  Your Thoughts are always a huge part of what invigorates and motivates me at this blog and are my primary barometer of its success.

Later today, I will post an overview of what I think about a number of key matters in atheism, the philosophy of religion, and ethics.  That post will essentially be a guide through my archives, with copious links so you can find where exactly I develop in depth each major position I have taken.  In the meantime, however, I would be delighted if you would scan down the left hand column of the blog where links to my key arguments on a wide range of topics in ethics, atheism, and religion, sorted into numerous categories, can be found.  And if all you really are dying to know is what “Camels With Hammers” means, then this post may be of some help to you.

Finally, I’d be delighted if you used the comments section below to take a moment to introduce yourself and to ask me anything of interest to you (whether philosophical or personal) about me, my views, or this blog.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Felix

    Hello Daniel,

    I hope you won’t take offence if I suggest that you picture on the blog could be improved!
    Obviously being in focus would be the first step, but also not against a plain background since this really puts your face ‘in my face’.

    Maybe a shot of you riding a camel?

    All the best

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      No problem, Felix. The reason for the blurriness of my face is, I’m not sure people want to see it any more clearly than they have to!

      I do plan to update the photo soon though. Please bear with it best you can in the meantime and keep reading!

  • http://crommunist.wordpress.com Crommunist

    Hi Daniel, and welcome! Looking forward to reading more from you. I’ve been a fan for a little while, and am glad to see you get this bump.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Great to hear, Crommunist! Thanks for coming over and for chiming in. Keep doing both!

  • Julie

    I just wanted to say you have arrived at a perfect time for me. Just last week I was pondering *Philosophy For Dummies* type books from Amazon. I look forward to reading this blog.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Thanks, Julie! It’s a delight to have you here. Feel free to write with specific questions and hopefully I will have time and opportunity to answer on the blog.

  • Felix


    check this out: http://historyofphilosophy.net/

    An on ongoing series of the history of philosophy.
    It has been going for about a year now – 43 episodes.
    But since each episode is only 20 minutes long catching up wouldn’t be too hard.

    In fact you wouldn’t need to catch up at all.
    After listening to the first 35 episodes on the Presocratics and Plato I have stopped listening whilst I read more about both these topics and the history of ancient Greece.

    Once I’ve done this ‘extra-curricular’ work I will start listening again were I left off.

    • Julie


      Thanks for the website link that looks just the sort of thing I want.

      Ah yes the extra reading is what whiles away so much of my time online.

  • besomyka

    Howdy Daniel!

    I was happy to see you join FTB. I hadn’t heard of you before, but after reading some of your initial posts I expect I’ll find the discussions and topics here quite interesting!

    I’m a programmer by trade, but I took, and continue to read, a good amount of philosophy. I went a bit deeper into the philosophy of mind, but find the entire exercise of argument enjoyable.

    I’ve come to the tenative conclusion that conversing with people of faith, that all the paticulars are a bit beside the point. The real conflict and disagreement is epistomological. We mean different things when we say we know something.

    Do you find this to be true, or is there some other more core conflict at work?

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Hi besomyka! It’s a pleasure to meet you. I do agree that the primary issues are often epistemological more than metaphysical. Here is are two posts you may enjoy which explore from two different angles a number of the confusing dynamics at work with religious people as they constantly oscillate between attempts to make arguments for knowledge claims and then switch to defending those same claims as just matters of “faith” when their arguments fail: Disambiguating Faith: The Evidence Impervious Agnostic Theists and Disambiguating Faith: How Faith Poisons Religion. See what you think about what I have to say in either or both of those posts and let me know what I missed that you’ve observed in your own experience!

    • besomyka

      All good reading, and more links from those posts to peruse as time permits as well! It’s always a bit overwhelming discovering an already-existing trove of information. Can you imagine if you just started reading Penny Arcade today? There’s so much there!

      In any case, for me the objection that people of faith have reliably made to me is on that I think concisely identifies the difference in opnion; the equilivance of “you have faith in science.”

      One one hand, I say ‘yes’. I suppose I do, in that I find Rationalism a more persuasive way of discovering knowledge than, say, straight up Idealism. I have decided that it’s the mose convincing, and I end up framing my arguments in that way.

      They ask ‘how do I know if that’s true?’. I guess I’m not sure. It seems to work when put into practice. It is as if it were true, which is good enough for me.

      I can ask them, “how do you know God is real?”. They just do. They feel God as a presence in thier lives. An experience, or an intuition. I guess they tend to Idealism, but if that’s all there is I don’t know how to go about having a productive conversation. They dismiss rational argument and I dismiss their intuition as insufficient.

      In your post about Faith Poisoning Religion (which I need to reread, honestly, after reading some of the posts that you linked to — I expect I may not have gotten all the context in the first pass), you hit on the problem I was thinking of when you say, “faith involves willfully putting your subjective desires ahead of objectivity and perversely calling this the real route to truth.”

      It’s the ‘real route to truth that’ struck me. I agree with you, but I suspect other people would not. But that’s a hyperlink, so I imagine you’ve already expounded on it a little.

      I guess that’s the other thing. What is the difference between knowing something and truth? When I say I know somthing, I say that because I have the expectation that the assertion is true. In my head when you say a route to truth, it seems you’re appealing to your episemology. If we disagree about that, however, then everything else you’ve written is still up in the air.

      And that’s the situation I find myself in as well.

      And… code compiling done. Back to work!

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Thanks besomyka. Don’t get overwhelmed, there’s plenty of time to read through everything you find interesting! And keep commenting as you go.

      I got into a long debate on Facebook with a mystic sort of believer a couple months ago who just kept appealing to his almighty “intuitions”. I should probably dig through and see if I can piece together a post on the topic here because, as you say, that kind of epistemology that thinks it is okay to leap from a feeling to an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-etc. being is a serious (and prevalent) problem.

  • Tabby Lavalamp

    Hello again.