Howard Van Till

Anyone getting deeply involved in debates over creationism and intelligent design eventually runs across the name of Howard Van Till, a physicist with a Calvinist Christian background who taught at Calvin College. Having him on board as a defender of science has been invaluable, especially as an example of someone who seemed theologically conservative but also had few qualms about accepting most of modern natural science. Mind you, I found some of his writing intellectually irritating, given the … [Read more...]

God: The Failed Hypothesis

Physicist Vic Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows that God Does Not Exist is now available. It should interest most Secular Outpost readers, especially those who like to read about science and religion issues.I wrote one of the jacket blurbs for it: "Both casual readers interested in what science has to say about religion and scholars looking to acquaint themselves with the latest science-based arguments against God will find much in this book worth their attention." Now, the b … [Read more...]

Godless Professors

At the Overcoming Bias blog, Robin Hanson raises the question of how to interpret the fact that more of the U.S. public believes in God than university professors do, more of whom in turn believe in God than their counterparts at elite universities. He offers the following as possibly relevant considerations:Information - Elite academics have better information and analysis.Social pressure - Random variations in local social pressure are a generic explanation for all behavior differences. … [Read more...]

OK, time for a quick laugh. Eddie Tabash led me to, and I'm passing the meme on... … [Read more...]

Do the more aggressive skeptics misunderstand religion?

I just got back from a conference on "The Evolution of Religion," largely devoted to discussing evolutionary and cognitive science-based explanations of human religiosity. There's some fascinating work being done, and I expect this topic will be of increasing interest to secular people as the field continues to mature. As I pointed out in my talk, current research fits in very well with my expectations as an "ambitious and lazy" physicalist. But the news is not all good for those nonbelievers … [Read more...]

Embezzlement in the Catholic Church

As if covering up molestation by its priests were not bad enough, Trent Stamp of Charity Navigator points out that, according to researchers at Villanova University, 85% of Roman Catholic dioceses have discovered embezzlement in the last five years, and 11% report that more than $500,000 was taken.As Stamp suggests, if this were reported by a secular charity, it would likely lose its tax-exempt status. … [Read more...]

Interview with Heather MacDonald on coming out as an atheist conservative

Gene Expression has a nice ten-question interview with Heather MacDonald, John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, about her article in The American Conservative in August of last year, in which she revealed her atheism. She wasn't in the closet about her conservatism.Hat tip to Catallarchy. … [Read more...]

Evolution of Religion

I'll be off to an International Conference on the Evolution of Religion later this week. It should be interesting. The speakers are largely psychologists, anthropologists, cognitive scientists etc. with a foot in evolutionary biology, plus some biologists and religious studies types. Then there's a smaller array of theologians and philosophers who'll comment on the first group's research. Daniel Dennett is one of the big-shot presenters. I think I'm the only physics-type giving a talk, though … [Read more...]