Archives for January 2006

Militant Agnosticism

I recently received an email from an agnostic named Dan who was, ironically enough, quite militant about his agnosticism! According to Dan, "one cannot logically be an atheist" because "a negative can never be proven." Notice, however, the statement "a negative can never be proven" is itself a negative statement. Either the statement "a negative can never be proven" can itself be proven, in which case the argument is self-refuting, or it can't be proven, in which case it doesn't provide a reason … [Read more...]

Ken Ham: Postmodern Relativist?

In a series of feature articles prominently displayed on the Answers in Genesis (AiG) website, Creationist Ken Ham seems to promote a point of view that can best be described as postmodern relativism. In an article on searching for silver bullets, Ham writes:“[U]ltimately, the [evolution versus creation] argument is about how you interpret the facts—and this depends upon your belief about history. The real difference is that we have different ‘histories’…, which we use to interpret the science an … [Read more...]

Muslims outraged

For all the Religious Right political influence and the cultural weight of the most mindless forms of Christianity in the United States, at least it's not a Muslim country.After a Danish and a Norwegian newspaper printed a couple of cartoons less-than-fully-respectful of Muhammad, Muslims the world over are indulging their sense of outrage, demanding that Denmark and Norway somehow censor or otherwise punish the newspaper or the cartoonists. Some comments sent to the Turkish newspaper I read … [Read more...]

The greatest philosophers: theists or atheists?

William Vallicella ranks the greatest philosophers, asking whether they were theists or atheists--and his list puts at least seven theists in the top ten. I think he's asking the wrong question--an alternative question which would put things in a different perspective isWere the greatest philosophers advocates of the mainstream religious views of the population they lived in, or did they express doubts about such views?Atheism has always been a tiny minority view, especially if you only count … [Read more...]

Wanchick’s moral argument

I probably should have posted this directly here rather than on my own blog, but I've offered up a critique of Wanchick's moral argument in his Internet Infidels debate with Richard Carrier at The Lippard Blog. I believe that not only does Wanchick mainly proceed through the mere assertion of dubious premises, but that at one point he effectively argues for something that is almost moral subjectivism as a premise by which he attempts to derive the existence of God from the objectivity of moral … [Read more...]

On Living

Take a look at this poem by Nazim Hikmet, On Living. It loses something in being translated from the original Turkish, but there's enough of an echo here of what is one of my favorite poems that I have to recommend it. And it's a very secular view of life, just to make it relevant to this blog, but I almost hesitate to say so -- it's not like whether I enjoy something has a whole lot to do with whether I wholeheartedly agree with it... … [Read more...]

Aliens Are Coming

The New York Times issues yet another in a series of found-another-planet-out-there articles that have been steadily coming in from astronomers around the world. In this case, the team reports that the new planet is the “the most Earthlike planet yet to be discovered.” It seems that it’s just a matter of time before we detect planets that can support life. And you know what that means. Aliens. No, not flying saucers but worlds in which intelligent beings are thriving. Since at least Lucretius in … [Read more...]

Daniel Dennett interview in New York Times Magazine

The New York Times Magazine of January 22, 2006 contains an interview with Daniel Dennett on the subject matter of his new book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. A couple of excerpts suggest it will have some similarities to Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained:We have a built-in, very potent hair-trigger tendency to find agency in things that are not agents, like snow falling off the roof.When a person dies, we can't just turn that off. We go on thinking about that person as … [Read more...]