Archives for August 2008

Faith and Reason

A nephew was recently visiting here in the Northwest, up from California. He is an atheist in a public junior high school with students who are mostly Catholics and Evangelical Christians. His skeptical and anti-religious views have not been warmly received by other students. So, he was asking me for some ammunition to take back to California for anticipated debates and discussions with Christian students next school year.I didn’t want to overwhelm him with dozens of issues and arguments and a … [Read more...]

Can we stop at metaphor?

"It should be seen as a metaphor." That has has to be one of the the most common moves to save a supernatural belief from criticism. If educated people can no longer take the Bible at face value, well, maybe the creation stories, miracles, and so forth are all metaphorical. If astrology looks brain dead, it still might be a good source of psychological metaphors. Mystical writings come across as drivel? They may be metaphors nudging us toward an indescribable God.But it's also worthwhile to ask … [Read more...]

Waiting for God

I highly recommend Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, by Lawrence Bush.This is more of an intellectual memoir than a comprehensive argument, and that's exactly its merit. Bush comes from a background where New Age and liberal Jewish spirituality are the most prominent alternatives to nonbelief, and he details the very real attractions of such views as well as explaining why he remains skeptical of any sort of supernatural reality. The ambivalence about secular … [Read more...]

Not so fine-tuned

New Scientist ran a brief article highlighting Fred Adams's work, casting doubt on the popular notion that the universe is specially fine-tuned for life.Work done by Adams or Vic Stenger tends to show that when a wide range of cosmological parameters are varied, achieving conditions for complexity is not that amazing. I don't want to over-emphasize this, since I think that the fine-tuning argument for an intelligently designed universe is an exasperatingly bad piece of reasoning even in the … [Read more...]

An Argument for Atheism – Part 2

In Chapter 2 of The God Delusion, Dawkins gives an argument for atheism. Here is my reconstruction of this argument (see “An Argument for Atheism”, posted 7/17/08): 1. Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual evolution.Therefore2. Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, necessarily arrives late in the history of the universe.Therefore3. No creative int … [Read more...]

Censoring critics of religion

The Wall Street Journal has a story about a Dutch drawer of offensive cartoons, against interest groups such as religions, who has been arrested and may be prosecuted for violating a law preventing discrimination on the base of race and religion. Islamic sensibilities, as is often the case, appear to be at center stage.I don't know where this case will go. But I expect to see more throughout the Western world, and I think free speech absolutism in such matters will become less and less … [Read more...]