Archives for October 2008

An Argument for Atheism – Part 4

In Chapter 2 of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins gives an argument for atheism. The argument is a chain of reasoning consisting of five inferences. The first inference is a non sequitur, but I have attempted to rescue the argument by making explicit an unstated assumption, and by clarifying the first two premises.In my last post on this argument (9/08/08), I began to examine the revised first inference:1a. Any creative intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into … [Read more...]

Purtill’s Definition of “Miracle” – Part 6

A miracle is an event (1) brought about by the power of God that is (2) a temporary (3) exception (4) to the ordinary course of nature (5) for the purpose of showing that God has acted in history. (“Defining Miracles” in In Defense of Miracles, IVP, 1997, p.72).In my last post on this subject (9/3/08), I raised an objection to the first condition:(1) brought about by the power of GodI had previously eliminated the unclear term “God” from this condition:(1a) brought about by the power of a person … [Read more...]

Extraterrestrial Cattle

My brother just passed on a bit of weirdness to me, knowing I like this sort of stuff. A British psychiatrist, Imad Hassan, is promoting a Muslim blend of creation and evolution. He accepts common descent, even denouncing Harun Yahya. Humans, however, are a partial exception, and he is convinced intelligent design is the overarching reason behind common descent.That much is not at all unusual. Hassan says that Darwin died a Muslim, interpreting the fact that Darwin described himself as an … [Read more...]

The Fall of the Evangelical Nation

Politically aware American nonbelievers worry a lot about religious right politics. And this worry centers on evangelicals, though conservative Catholics also have a very important part in the Religious Right.In The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church, journalist Christine Wicker suggests that we need not worry so much. Looking at US evangelicals, she sees not a religious powerhouse and political juggernaut but a subculture showing serious signs of … [Read more...]

Rejecting hell

In a book I'm reading, I came across the story of an evangelical woman who one day realized she didn't believe in hell. I found this interesting, particularly because a former student recently emailed me that he had come to the conclusion that there is no hell, and had in fact been drifting away not just from evangelical but Christian orthodoxy.Now, clearly hell, and other nasty bits in monotheistic traditions, bother many people. Some occasionally decide they can't believe in all that any more. … [Read more...]

Godless in North Carolina elections

The North Carolina Republican party is attacking Democratic candidate for the US Senate, Kay Hagan, for ties to that ultimate evil in US politics, atheists. Much of it is political misrepresentation, because Hagan, by all appearances, fits most standards of devoutness American politicians are measured against. She did, however, meet with representatives of a "Godless Americans PAC," which I imagine takes some liberal-mindedness, not to mention courage.You can find out more on the "I'm important … [Read more...]

Of Love and Unknowns

There is a species of apologetic moves that I seriously dislike, mainly because they seem so empty on the face of it that when intelligent people say such things, I wonder if there is any point to the conversation any more. I run into these moves coming more from thoughtful, liberal religious people than from conservatives, though I wouldn't be surprised if they have universal appeal.A recent article by Lisa Miller on Newsweek has two of these moves on display. First,Submitting faith to proof is … [Read more...]

Speaking on ID

Tomorrow, I give one of my occasional talks about Intelligent Design, in Columbia, MO. I stay away from religious questions at such events, unless someone in the audience explicitly brings one up. Evolution and ID are not religiously neutral topics, but whether Darwinian evolution succeeds as a scientific explanation and what this implies about the gods are different questions.Most scientists and science educators would agree with this approach. After all, the primary reasons for resistance to … [Read more...]