American Ignorance

Growing Number of Americans Say Obama is a Muslim"A new national survey by the Pew Research Center finds that nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) now say Obama is a Muslim, up from 11% in March 2009. Only about one-third of adults (34%) say Obama is a Christian, down sharply from 48% in 2009. Fully 43% say they do not know what Obama’s religion is." Religious Knowledge Survey"On average, Americans … [Read more...]

A Scientific Question? Part 10

One way of understanding "science" is that it is concerned with the discovery and verification of facts. But, what is a "fact"? The word "fact" has different meanings or shades of meaning, depending on what it is that we are contrasting with "fact". One important distinction is that of fact vs. theory.D. Fact vs. TheoryWhat I have in mind here is the idea that direct observations are where the rubber meets the road in science. Theories can be tweaked, revised, and even rejected, but "facts" or … [Read more...]

Another loss for Turkish secularism

Turkey recently had a referendum on constitutional changes, in which the ruling party enjoyed a crushing victory.The Western press, to the extent it paid attention, was preoccupied with questions such as whether this was a victory for democracy, and whether it was a victory for Islamism. The answer to both is yes. Western powers need not worry: the ruling Islamists in Turkey are loyal economic neoliberals, and they are far from the ridiculous bomb-tossing image of Islamism promoted by our holy … [Read more...]

The Sentence “God exists” – Part 4

In Part II of The Coherence of Theism (revised edition), Richard Swinburne discusses the idea of a "contingent God". This is because the characteristic of "necessary being" makes it so that, according to Swinburne, the concept of "God" cannot be defined in ordinary and non-stretched words. So, in Part II, Swinburne sets aside the property of being a "necessary being" to show that the other characteristics implied by the word "God" can be clarified and understood in terms of ordinary words … [Read more...]

The “Hard Problem,” Physicalism, and Theism

The discussion on “The X that created the universe” raised some interesting points, especially the exchange between Ted Drange and Dianelos Georgoudis on consciousness. There were two points of disagreement: (1) Whether, and in what way, consciousness is a problem for physicalism and (2) whether theism has a problem explaining consciousness. Dianelos and other advocates of the “hard problem” of consciousness assert that science has made, and perhaps in principle cannot make, progress on the quest … [Read more...]

Dawkins against the Pope

Video footage of a Dawkins speech to a crowd of around 10,000 at the Protest the Pope rally in London:H/T: Why Evolution is True … [Read more...]

“Retirement” Responses

My "retirement notice" from philosophy of religion posted a couple of weeks ago has drawn an amazing and entirely unexpected amount of comment on Prosblogion, the Leiter Report, Debunking Christianity, and Dangerous Idea. My! I've gone viral! Seriously, I thought that maybe a dozen people would be interested in my decision, and since most of them read Secular Outpost, I put the notice here, and I am simply astonished at the attention it got. If only my books had been read by that many...I … [Read more...]

The X that Caused the Universe

The Kalam cosmological argument includes this bit of reasoning:1. The universe began to exist.2. If the universe began to exist, then something (other than the universe) caused the universe to begin to exist.Therefore,3. Something (other than the universe) caused the universe to begin to exist.This reasoning seems fine to me. The universe did not come from nothing; it came from something. The disagreement between atheists and theists is (or should be) over the nature of the something from which … [Read more...]