The Evolutionary Advantages And Present Disadvantages Of Our Conformist Minds

John Wilkins has a good post on the value of our minds’ readinesses to defer to authorities from an evolutionary standpoint: The evolutionary justification for this is, of course the following: if evolution were a designer, trying to ensure that thinking beings learned and knew what they had to to survive, a cheaper rule than putting everything into the head from the start is “learn from those around you, because they are not dead”. The term Grayling uses, which I… Read more

My Definition Of Marriage

or, more precisely, of its essential purposes: Marriage is supposed to make people stable, provide a healthy environment for children, to encourage virtues related to commitment, love, responsibility, mutual support, kindness, generosity, and self-sacrifice, and to contribute directly to the individual happiness of those in the marriage and everyone directly affected by the marriage.  Indirectly, it is encouraged because it tends to create people who are more grounded, who are less flighty due to their increased responsibilities, and who have… Read more

Are Sex and Morality Merely “Evolutionary Tricks”?

Francis Collins trots out a familiar old argument against atheism.  The argument is that if there is no God then our morality is an illusion.  Collins’s presentation of this argument features an unusual and suspicious spin.  Collins knows that arguments can be made from evolutionary psychology that broadly moral thinking seems to have evolved in us, rather than to have been either an invention of human societies or revealed by God to humans through religious means.  This undermines what he… Read more

For God or Morality? On Those Who’d Hold Morality Hostage For Faith

In his recent critique of Francis Collins, the Christian Evangelical and geneticist recently appointed by Obama to head the National Institutes of Health, Sam Harris referenced the slides from one of Collins’s speeches.  I want to take two posts (but possibly more if there are comments or if I otherwise have extra relevant ideas on the topic) to address this one assertion from Collins’s slides which is peculiarly pregnant with problems: If the moral law is just a side effect… Read more

Carl Sagan On Charlie Rose

On the needs for scientific education: Read more

British Quakers To Request Government To Allow Gay Marriages

From the BBC: The Quakers – also known as The Religious Society of Friends – are likely to reach consensus on the issue of gay marriage without a vote at their annual gathering in York on Friday. They will also formally ask the government to change the law to allow gay people to marry. Quaker registrars, like rabbis and Church of England priests, have the authority to marry heterosexual couples on behalf of the state. But many British Quakers feel… Read more

Daily Hilarity: Chapelle Prefigured Gates Incident

Pretty bizarre: Thanks to Andrew Sullivan Read more

O’Reilly The Insult Comic Dog

hilarious stuff Read more

Pastafarians: The Most Charitable Human Beings

Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta reports: I’ve mentioned before how atheists are atop the leaderboard at Kiva — a website that “allows people to lend money via the Internet to microfinance institutions in developing countries which in turn lend the money to small businesses…” It’s a wonderful charity. The 5,000+ members of the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious group have given over $763,000 in loans! And Kiva Christians are in second But here’s a fun twist: If… Read more

Coyne Vs. The Dogma That Religion Aids Moral Progress

As part of a 9 page critical review of Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, Jerry Coyne levels more than a few incisive challenges countering Wright’s faith in religion as an indispensible aid to moral progress.  Here are just a few of Coyne’s key points. First he enlists David Hume to challenge Wright’s assumption that monotheistic moralities are superior to polytheistic ones: One can in fact make a good case that, contrary to Wright’s claim, ethics went downhill as religion… Read more

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious