Archives for 2008

Sovereign selves

Lately I've been reading some conservative, religion-friendly material on bioethics. Not because I greatly care about bioethics per se, but because biotechnology seems to be something that bothers religious thinkers, and so I figure anyone who works on science and religion like I do should keep up with some of the arguments.One impression I've developed is that a lot of the conservatives really don't understand science. I don't mean technical details as much as the nature of science. A common … [Read more...]

What’s with the British Labour Party?

I like looking at British news sources like the Guardian and the BBC. Their contents seem much better than the appalling crap put out by the mass media here in the United States.One benefit is the Guardian also regularly runs explicitly secularist and skeptical columns by the likes of Polly Toynbee, AC Grayling, and Susan Blackmore. (They even ran a column of mine once.)Polly Toynbee's latest is a good example, but it leaves me with a question. She points out that it is the Labour Party that is … [Read more...]

“How to be an ally with atheists”

Greta Christina's blog has an interesting piece about "how to be an ally with atheists," addressed mainly to politically left-liberal believers who want to be more inclusive towards nonbelievers. It's almost all eminently sensible stuff; I think Christina does a very good job capturing some of the routine everyday crap that drives atheists up the wall.Still, I wonder how the premise of the piece holds up. Christina says thatthe atheist movement is just beginning to get off the ground, and it's … [Read more...]

UN against free speech

According to Reuters, "The U.N. General Assembly condemned defamation of religion for the fourth year running on Thursday, ignoring critics who said the resolution threatens freedom of speech." Here's one item that caught my eye:Islamic states say such resolutions do not aim to limit free speech but to stop publications like the Danish cartoons showing the Prophet Mohammed that sparked bloody protests by Muslims around the world in 2005.At first glance, that seems to be a blatant contradiction, … [Read more...]

Passing the hat

I just got a year-end donation request from the Internet Infidels, the parent organization of this blog. I just donated a few dollars, and if you read this blog regularly, that might be a good idea for you as well.While I'm passing the hat, if you want to support those of us who write on this blog, you might consider buying (and giving as gifts) a book or two we have authored. There's a list on the right side of the screen if you scroll down. None of these are best-sellers, and very little of … [Read more...]

Two conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theory 1— AntisemiticAccording to this theory, Jews control politics and finance, particularly in technologically advanced countries. They do this in order to advance their own interests, from diverting wealth to Jewish hands to stealing Palestinian lands. Fearing the consequences of discovery, however, the Jews operate behind the scenes. They often infiltrate non-Jewish institutions and work through them.The traditional version of this theory goes squarely against established … [Read more...]

Early Islam

The IHEU Newsletter reports on a Conference on the Early History of Islam and the Koran in Germany this March.There's some fascinating research going on about very early Islam. Now, among those in the field, it's well known that the historical sources concerning the early phases of Islam are few, late, and tendentious. In other words, we have very little good information, and there are reasons to distrust the orthodox salvation-history Muslims think is what happened. This leaves room for some … [Read more...]

New paper against cosmological argument

J. Brian Pitts has just published an article in the latest issue of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science: "Why the Big Bang Singularity Does Not Help the Kalam Cosmological Argument for Theism." Here's the abstract:The cosmic singularity provides negligible evidence for creation in the finite past, and hence theism. A physical theory might have no metric or multiple metrics, so a ‘beginning’ must involve a first moment, not just finite age. Whether one dismisses singularities or tak … [Read more...]