Archives for 2006

Reppert on Drange vs. Wilson

Victor Reppert here provides an assessment of the Drange-Wilson debate on the existence of the Christian God. … [Read more...]

Are Atheists “Afraid” of God?

Imagine a man, Tom, who likes sweets but not ice cream. He has no personal disagreements with anyone who does eat ice cream; he just chooses not to eat ice cream himself. In fact, Tom is friends with several people who will eat ice cream, but no other dessert. Suddenly, out of nowhere, comes an editorial from a prominent TV personality and ice cream lover making all sorts of accusations about people like Tom who don't eat ice cream. According to the editorial, people like Tom dislike the taste … [Read more...]

Cognitive Psychology of Religion

I've been following developments in the cognitive psychology of religion over the past few years. I think they're very interesting, and obligatory reading for anyone seriously interested in questions concerning the truth of supernatural and paranormal claims. I've come across a few accessible articles lately that are good introductions: Paul Bloom's "Is God an Accident?" in The Atlantic, and Jesse Bering's "The Cognitive Psychology of Belief in the Supernatural" in American Scientist. I've … [Read more...]

*&^%$#@! Philosophers…

Speaking as a physicist, I think our biggest problem in science is being boring. Easily 95% of what we publish is ho-hum stuff, perhaps interesting to a handful of fellow experts in a sub-sub-subspecialty, but almost no one else. My own work has been no exception.But as a physicist who is interested in religious and paranormal-related questions, I have to mess with philosophy as well as science (see my books). And I suspect that the problem with a lot of philosophy is pompous bullshit … [Read more...]

Einstein, Quantum Mechanics, God

I'd really like to know how some science-related myths enter the public consciousness, sort of like urban legends. There is a lot that concerns physics and religion that, whenever I run across them, I have to wonder how people come up with this stuff. And when I was browsing through an interview recently, I ran across two of my favorites within a couple of sentences of each other.One has to do with Einstein. Just about everyone knows of him as an iconic science-genius with frizzy hair -- … [Read more...]

Taking Offense

It's a couple of days old now, but it's rare that I find an op-ed piece that I can so wholeheartedly agree with, so I urge everyone to look at Matthew Parris's comment in The Times.I realize that the whole Muslim-outrage-over-cartoon situation is more complicated than a matter of free speech versus fanaticism. Still, the whole "we must always respect religious beliefs" bit bothers me. My interest in free speech is largely academic, in the sense that I want everything, certainly including … [Read more...]

An empirical test of the existence of sensus divinitatis in atheists

Paul Manata, in a comment on the post about Dan the agnostic who claims there aren't really atheists, linked to a paper he wrote arguing for a similar conclusion. The position he takes in that paper, following Greg Bahnsen, is that atheists really do believe in God--everyone does--but that they have a second-order belief about themselves that they do not believe in God. That is, they are self-deceived about not believing in God, and their professions of atheism are based on the erroneous … [Read more...]

Secularism is Dying

Recently, Free Inquiry magazine had a very interesting "symposium in print" on the question, Secularism -- Will it Survive? The affirmative answers seemed more like pious hopes to me, I have to say. And the thought I have given the question since has led me in an increasingly negative direction. I think secularism is moribund. Politically, it has been losing too many battles. Intellectually, it has become harder to defend without sounding like someone reciting outdated platitudes.I am most … [Read more...]