Archives for March 2010

“Theocracy” is not the issue

Russell Blackford has responded to my suggestion that multicultural recognition of ethno-religious groups might have a better claim to protect social peace in some circumstances. It's a thoughtful reply, and it convinces me that I should better qualify some of my claims. Overall, however, I still disagree. I especially think that speaking of theocracy and religiously inspired laws for all is not to the point. Indeed, the way we immediately think of religious control as the alternative to … [Read more...]

Postmodern peace-keeping

Russell Blackford, editor of 50 Voices of Disbelief (which I have contributed to), is a strong defender of secular liberalism. In his blog, which I like to follow, he regularly responds to critics of secularism and nonbelief.In his latest, he rips into sociologist and priest Gary Bouma, who has recently attacked secularists and active atheists as divisive elements that threaten social harmony.I'm as dyed-in-the-wool a secular liberal as they come. But I want to argue that here, Bouma is correct … [Read more...]

Taking advantage of religion

Many (most?) nonbelievers are convinced that supernatural believers would be better off without their religion.That's hard to evaluate, particularly since important beliefs such as religious convictions are not merely instrumental in letting us achieve our purposes. Instead, they strongly shape what our deepest interests are. Unless we have a way of figuring out who is "better off" independently of our particular interests, it is hard to see how we can say that the religious would invariably … [Read more...]

Zero probabilities

There is a subset of the supernatural being fan club whose members are enamored of improbability arguments. That is, they will calculate the probability of some feature of the universe, get a very small number, and declare that since the probability is so low under a naturalistic scenario, supernatural intervention is required.Usually there are some blatant surface errors in such a calculation, such as assumptions no one is entitled to, or an artificially narrow set of naturalistic scenarios. … [Read more...]