Archives for August 2008

Skeptical Approaches to Miracles – part 3

There are a number of philosophical and epistemological objections to miracles. The first philosophical critique of miracles that I will consider comes from Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677). Spinoza was given the Hebrew name “Baruch” at birth, but began using the equivalent Latin name “Benedict” after he was excommunicated from the Jewish community in Amsterdam in 1656, on the charge of atheism. Spinoza believed in God, but his conception of God was not that of traditional theism. His concept of God … [Read more...]

Creationist VP candidate?

Sarah Palin is now the Republican vice presidential candidate. She apparently came out in support of teaching creationism alongside evolution in public school science classrooms during her campaign for the governorship of Alaska in 2006.It does not seem to have hurt her election prospects in 2006, and I doubt it will now. … [Read more...]

Faith and Reason – part 2

In "Does It Matter Whether Theism is Reasonable" (a short Chapter in the book, The Existence of God, 1965, Cornell University Press), Wallace Matson points out the difficulty involved in trying to rationally justify being rational:Well, what can be said to someone who explicitly rejects reason? One might point out that very likely he does not reject it altogether; he wants evidence that the house he plans to buy is not infested with termites, he wants his sick children to be treated by competent … [Read more...]

New Chick Tract

Serious weirdness, this one. Almost unintentionally subversive, in the way it blurs the distinction people make between fairy tales and Gospel Truth. … [Read more...]

Religious discrimination?

In creationist and intelligent design circles, there's long been a conviction that in scientific institutions there's a climate of persecution against "dissenters from Darwinism." This is not entirely imaginary; after all, in science, we tend to think that especially religiously-inspired anti-evolutionary stances are a sign of professional incompetence.Lately, I've ben running into an occasional piece taking this to the next level. Since our judgments of incompetence are bound to influence … [Read more...]

Booze, sex, godlessness

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is putting up billboards saying things like "Keep Religion OUT of Politics" and "Imagine No Religion."Interestingly, a news story about this mentions thatThe five sites chosen by the organization were changed after CBS Outdoor said they had to be 1,000 feet from any schools or churchesA sort of requirement that I'd expect to be applied to liquor stores and adult bookstores.Mind you, if godlessness was as attractive to people as booze and sex, FFRF wouldn't … [Read more...]

Unsecular Democrats

The Democratic Party is having an Interfaith Gathering tomorrow, and the Coalition of Secular Voters are expressing their disgruntlement at their exclusion.I can see the need to put up a fuss. But I hope no one is naive enough to think secularist complaints can have more than a superficial effect on the Democrats.I'm a college professor. Most people I hang around with are upper-middle-class liberal secularists. Many look forward to the possibility of an Obama presidency and a Democratic … [Read more...]


My grandmother recently died. That was sad for those of us who loved her, but no great surprise. She was 88, in failing health, and she had had a good life.But the process of her dying was perhaps unnecessarily difficult. She had a massive stroke which destroyed her left brain hemisphere. Her wishes for a situation like this were very clear, both in terms of explicit paperwork and statements to family and friends. She did not want heroic measures to keep her "alive" in a situation where her … [Read more...]