Archives for March 2010

A question of authority

I like this cartoon, from the creationist organization Answers in Genesis. It expresses a conservative religious concern about the source and authority of morality very well.If there is no external, transcendent, supernatural, absolute, objective, (insert any other hardening adjectives you like) source of rules, then people are just making the rules up. And if so, what stops someone from adopting self-serving, community-exploiting "rules"?It's a good question. Nonbelievers have to spill a lot of … [Read more...]

In praise of theology

In the spirit of fair play and all that, I should make a list of what I like about the enterprise of theology.It's less harmful than economics, If I think of anything else I'll add it to the list. Right now I'm drawing a blank. … [Read more...]

Those immoral atheists

A Christian philosopher, James S. Spiegel, has a new book out, The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. It's getting some press in Christian circles. I don't imagine it'll get much attention elsewhere; its thesis seems transparently ridiculous. Atheism, apparently, is a manifestation of moral rebellion, the psychology of having a weak father, and immorality-induced blindness to overwhelming evidence for the reality of God and the truth of the Bible. In other words, the book … [Read more...]

The Purposes of God

Whether a theist says “God created all living things” or “God created the universe” or “God raised Jesus from the dead” the point is to give a personal explanation for some facts (or alleged facts) as opposed to a physical or scientific explanation. When giving a personal explanation for some fact, information about motivations or purposes is obviously relevant evidence.If we know that just one person committed the murder of a rich man, and if we know that it was either the butler or the maid wh … [Read more...]

Son of even more on multicultural dystopias

Time to wrap up.Russell Blackford has his third response to me up. Looking at that, and going back to look at how all this started, I have to make some concessions.I overcooked my interpretation of the Bouma-Blackford dispute, pressing it into use for my own agenda. I didn't, and still don't, know exactly what Bouma was getting at, and I didn't give too much thought to the wider context of why Blackford responded as he did. I still maintain that someone who considers secular criticism of … [Read more...]

Even more on multicultural dystopias

Some things that are, again, too long for the comments.SlaverySome commenters think they have a knockdown argument by bringing up possible atrocities under a multicultural order. Slavery seems to be a popular example. I think this is a very weak response. Let me explain why.In the US, opponents of gay marriage and other homosexual rights often argue that if homosexuality is granted legal status, this opens the door to all sorts of behaviors traditionally thought of as sexual perversions. … [Read more...]

More on multicultural dystopias

I was putting in a comment in reply to YamaZaru, but it ended up exceeding the character limit. So I'll have to post this as a separate entry."You don't want liberal ways “forced” upon anyone, but instead are consigning many of the members of these subgroups to having ways they didn't choose “forced” upon them."Liberal language about "choice" and "force" is very misleading here.No one chooses who they are. Our choices take place in a context of unchosen circumstances, and unchosen but organic … [Read more...]

A revived millet system?

Russell Blackford, in the second part of his response to me, brings up the Ottoman millet system as an example of a political arrangement based on accommodating different ethno-religious communities—an example of what not to do.As it happens, I was born and raised in the old Ottoman capital. I might be able to say a few things about the millet system. I'm not going to praise it. For someone like me, it has few attractions. And this is not, by the way, because of discrimination against the … [Read more...]