Archives for February 2009

Atheist Atrocities?

I notice that some comments on recent posts have resurrected the old canard about atheism being responsible for some of history's worst atrocities. The argument goes like this: Communists committed horrible atrocities. Communits were atheists. Therefore atheism is to blame for horrible atrocities. Prof. Alister McGrath of Oxford Univbersity makes this claim in his book The Twilight of Atheism, Doubleday, 2004. I responded to it at length in my essay "Atheism: Twilight or Dawn?" in The Future of … [Read more...]

With a solution, without a solution

There is a sense in which the whole problem of the existence of supernatural powers such as God is soluble. You try to come up with the best broad picture of the universe. You pay special attention to phenomena that have traditionally been explained as due to gods and demons, spirits and ghosts. If a naturalistic picture ends up doing the best job and holds the best promise for further progress, you say that the gods are most likely not real.There is another sense in which the problem is … [Read more...]

Recent Posts on the Trilemma

For those interested in the Trilemma, I have made two recent posts criticizing Josh McDowell's trilemma argument on my blog: focus of the recent posts is on the key assumption that Jesus claimed to be God. … [Read more...]

Peaking secularity

I've run into a paper by Eric Kaufmann, "Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century," that gives an interesting twist to the debate about secularization.Social scientists have been butting heads for quite some time about secularization, counter-trends of religious revival, and so forth. Kaufmann thinks there's a new element that affects the picture. Many religious movements today emphasize a pro-natalist morality, and outreproduce more secular … [Read more...]

Atheists have no basis for morality

"Atheists have no basis for morality"—this has to be one of the most common charges laid against nonbelievers.There is a sense in which the accusation is correct. It just happens to be incomplete. No one has any basis for morality, at least not in the otherworldly sense of "basis" that informs many conversations about the topic.Note that theists put their emphasis on a basis for morality. If they have any level of sophistication, they do not argue that nonbelievers are bad people. Instead, … [Read more...]

“Why Women Are Bound to Religion”

R. Elisabeth Cornwell has an interesting article online, "Why Women Are Bound to Religion: An Evolutionary Perspective."Women are, statistically speaking, more religious than men. Cornwell speculates that this has to do with female social conservatism, tendency to avoid risks, and higher dependence on social networks for reproductive success. I don't understand why the article favors women emancipating themselves from religion. The more obvious step, I would think, would be to adopt more … [Read more...]

Barr dialogue piece from DINA

[ My dialogue piece responding to Stephen M. Barr, from Divine Action and Natural Selection, pp. 479-80. ]Much of what Dr. Barr says is theological. I have no competence to comment on how it fits in with his particular religious tradition. It also strikes me as irrelevant to those not already committed to his tradition; it certainly has little bearing on scientific matters.That being said, I think there is some confusion about randomness exhibited throughout the article, and that might be worth … [Read more...]

Random thoughts

I would say that theists have a hard time dealing with randomness, but that would be misleading. Quite a few nonbelievers also dislike randomness. Randomness offends against the intuition that everything has a cause, whether this eventually means supernatural ultimate causes or a universe where every event has a natural cause.Still, religious thinkers seem to have a particular animus against randomness, continually speaking about the absurdity of it all coming down to chance. Those parts of … [Read more...]