Atlas Shrugged: Publish or Perish

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IThe last few industrialists of Colorado are disappearing, and the John Galt Line has been reduced to mostly-empty trains pulled by rickety, coal-burning locomotives. Having run out of leads in her quest for the magic motor, Dagny has finally resorted to contacting Robert Stadler. He comes to New York to see her, and she tells him about her discovery and gives him the incomplete papers she found in the factory:She watched him as he read. She saw the … [Read more...]

More Than the Sum of Our Senses

I'm still reading Timothy Keller's book. He's very much a fan of presuppositional apologetics, like this one in which he argues that an intelligent being that came about through evolution wouldn't be able to trust its own reasoning abilities:Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it's only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it. However, if we can't trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about … [Read more...]

Pushing Deeper Into the Bubble

SoapBubble

After the election last year, I wrote about the conservative epistemic bubble that left Republicans so utterly blindsided by their defeat. At the time, I wondered whether the magnitude of their loss would force the GOP to bow to reality, or whether they'd respond by retreating deeper into self-delusion. Well, I have some developments to report on.First, there's this message from James Dobson, one of the most powerful voices of the American evangelical right (HT: Right Wing Watch, a site I sho … [Read more...]

Miracle on 34th Street: The Value of Empiricism

MiracleOn34thStreet

Yes, you get a Christmas post! Atheists don't take the day off just because people think a mythological savior-god was born on this date thousands of years ago.So my wife and I were watching Miracle on 34th Street last night (the original, not the remake). In spite of everything I'm about to say, it's still one of the better holiday movies.* As Greg Olear points out on Salon, it's remarkably egalitarian, secular and anti-consumerist even by modern standards, much less by the standards of the … [Read more...]

The Republican Stupid-Party Spiral Dilemma

In an interview late last month, Republican senator Marco Rubio, who's widely viewed to be laying the groundwork for a 2016 presidential run, announced that he doesn't know how old the Earth is:I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.I can't help suggesting that perhaps … [Read more...]

Piercing the Republican Epistemic Bubble

I've written some overarching thoughts about last week's presidential election, but I wanted to dwell on one of its more fascinating aspects: the extent to which the Republican party was blindsided by the outcome. Going into Tuesday, countless Republicans had predicted a solid victory for Mitt Romney, and it's clear that this wasn't just a political ploy to sway media coverage. On the contrary, Republicans at every level sincerely believed this - ordinary voters, professional pundits, and … [Read more...]

Because I’m An Atheist…

This post was originally written for the "Because I Am An Atheist" series at The Crommunist Manifesto. Thanks to Crommunist for the inspiration! Because I am an atheist, I don't have to spend my energy justifying the unjustifiable. As I've written before, I can imagine how I could have been a religious person. A different roll of the dice, a few chance encounters that happened differently - there are possible worlds where I became a believer rather than an atheist. I could have become … [Read more...]

Free-Floating Certainties

Most of us, especially if we follow the principles of critical thinking, go through life slowly building up a patina of evidence supporting the beliefs that matter to us. Under normal circumstances, the more that our experiences confirm the truth of a proposition, the more confidence we place in it. For a simple, everyday proposition such as "my wife loves me", or "I live in New York City", which is reinforced by countless facts in one's experience, one eventually builds up a certainty so firm … [Read more...]

Why I Identify as a Skeptic

My friend Sarah Moglia has written an essay, titled Why I Don't Call Myself a Skeptic, that's been making waves in the atheist blogosphere. She's got a thought-provoking argument with which I agree in part and disagree in part, and I thought I'd share my reaction to it. But first, let me echo her disclaimer: I'm not promoting what follows as a normative view that everyone should hold. I'm talking about why I choose to identify in a specific way. Actually, I tend to use "atheist" as my … [Read more...]

Is There Progress in Religion?

I wanted to pull this exchange out of the comments, because I thought it was worth highlighting:"Science is constantly evolving and improving on itself". I AGREE. The same as our understanding of God is constantly evolving and improving.In response, I came back with what I thought was a perfectly reasonable request:If that's really the case, then please list some of the new things we've learned about God in the past few hundred years.Unsurprisingly, this occasioned much … [Read more...]


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