Initial Inspiration

Most religions that exist today are of ancient origin, and their scriptures and creeds reflect the immoral beliefs of their times. However, social progress in the civilized world has led to widespread recognition of the immorality of those practices, and many churches today are in the awkward position of disavowing such evils while simultaneously maintaining the sacredness and inerrancy of the texts that teach them. The Bible, for example, explicitly states that women must remain silent in the … [Read more...]

Seeking the Hidden Switches

Two juxtaposed articles in the June/July issue of Scientific American Mind offer some intriguing insights into how theistic beliefs may have first developed in the human species. First, an article titled Preschool Determinists:When cognitive scientists Laura E. Schulz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Jessica Sommerville of the University of Washington tested preschoolers, they discovered that the kids were thoroughgoing "causal determinists." The children assumed that … [Read more...]

Science is a Way of Knowing

A common accusation leveled against science by its enemies is that it is too closed-minded, too dogmatic, too authoritarian. From creationists to "alternative medicine" advocates to New Agers, the defenders of pseudoscience argue that science is closed to new ideas, set in its ways, unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom. If only science would examine our claims with an open mind, goes the refrain from each fringe community, they would see that they are fully deserving of inclusion.There … [Read more...]

Pulling Back the Curtain

The previous post in the Observatory, "On Presuppositions", discussed a few of the many ways in which bias has been shown to affect our decisions. When we expect or believe something to be true, we very often act as if it is true, and disregard contradictory evidence.Given these undeniable facts, what hope is left for us to know the truth? A cynical interpretation would be that science, the organized quest for truth, has ironically proven that science is hopeless, that every conclusion is too … [Read more...]

Are Evolved Minds Reliable Truth-Finders?

In recent years, Christian apologists such as Alvin Plantinga have advanced arguments purporting to prove that evolutionary naturalism is a self-refuting worldview. According to these people, if evolution is true and there is no intelligent creator-god, then humans' sensory and rational faculties were created by a blind process that is not concerned with truth or falsity, and therefore those faculties themselves could not reliably detect truth or falsity. The conclusion, as Plantinga and others … [Read more...]


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