Archives for July 2009

Metaphysical Naturalism and Consciousness

Frequent correspondent Dianelos Georgoudis recently responded to my request that he present three conceptual problems with metaphysical naturalism. I had planned to address all three in a single post, but the issues are tangled and multifaceted, so I really only managed to address his first one—and this is still a very long post. The other points will have to wait until later. I think, as is so often the case, one source of our disagreement is that we have different understandings of the t … [Read more...]

Report: North Korea Publicly Executes Christian Woman for Distributing Bible

LINKWhile we usually address church-state issues that involve violations of the civil liberties of nontheists, this story highlights an extreme example of the reverse sort of issue, where the lack of government neutrality apparently harmed a theist (to put it mildly). Anyone who claims to be a freethinker or a supporter of church-state separation should condemn this action by North Korea. … [Read more...]

Skeptical Approaches to Miracles – Part 6

Because Part 5 was posted back in November of 2008, I will condense the previous post here, and add a few new ideas too.In Miracles and the Modern Mind, Norman Geisler summarizes Spinoza’s argument about miracles:1. Miracles are violations of natural laws.2. Natural laws are immutable.3. It is impossible to violate immutable laws.4. Therefore, miracles are impossible.(MMM, p.15)Contrary to Geisler's interpretation, Spinoza does not argue against the possibility of miracles. Rather, he assumes t … [Read more...]

Robert Wright with Bill Moyer’s Transcript Available

Bill Moyer's interview with Robert Wright, which aired last Friday, is now available on transcript here. My favorite part was when Moyer's challenged his Platonism: ROBERT WRIGHT: No. And I think, you know, in a way we shouldn't. I mean I think if there is you know, something out there called moral truth. And we should continue to try to relate to it in a way that brings us closer to it. And it-- BILL MOYERS: I don't understand what you mean. Out there? ROBERT WRIGHT: … [Read more...]

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Including the Idiots

We're still dealing with organized ignorance in high places here in Texas. Specifically, as I've mentioned in prior posts, our State Board of Education is stuffed with fundamentalist activists. Their latest effort is to make sure that social studies textbooks emphasize how America was "founded on biblical principles." Below is my letter to the Houston Chronicle published, very slightly edited, in today's (7/20) paper:Dear Editor, What the social conservatives on the State Board … [Read more...]

Liberal converts

It's generally the more conservative, even fundamentalist, versions of religions that strenuously evangelize and seek converts.So, other than bringing up children in the faith, how do more liberal religions reproduce themselves? I imagine there's a good deal of stealing from more conservative movements. For example, a college student can come to think scriptural literalism is unworkable, and drift toward a less rigorous version of her childhood faith. There has to be some amount of conversions … [Read more...]

Homeopathy bashing

Well, here we concentrate the higher class of superstition: religion. We shouldn't neglect the low-class kind like the basic pseudosciences, however. Such as alt-med. This is a very funny satire of homeopathy. … [Read more...]

Falling in love with gurus?

I'm reading a book by a journalist, consisting of interviews with Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish sect leader, together with her fawning commentary on Gülen.It's quite embarrassing really. Gülen speaks in banalities and produces shallow "spiritual" platitudes. He does some hamfisted punditry and generally demonstrates that he has, well, let's say intellectual limitations. His main theme is a kind of combination and reconciliation of Islam and Turkish nationalism. (He does some Arab-bashing.) No … [Read more...]