Headscarves to placate the police

An interesting observation I ran across in an interview with a Turkish journalist: Apparently, many women drivers in Turkey have begun to keep a headscarf in the car. This is just in case they run into a police checkpoint (usually for traffic purposes). In Turkey today, the police are notoriously a stronghold of religious conservatism. So when a woman drives by the police with a headscarf on, she is supposed to be less likely to be stopped for an examination of her license.Stories like this … [Read more...]

An Atheist Defends Religion

I recently read Bruce Sheiman's An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off with Religion than without it. It's a bit disappointing, so I won't write a long review. The thesis of the book is interesting enough: that organized religion and supernatural belief has significant social and personal benefits, and that even those who find themselves unable to affirm the reality of a God should recognize how religion improves all our lives. Sheiman, as a nonbeliever who wants to believe, … [Read more...]

The Sentence “God exists” – Part 6

The first chapter in Part II of The Coherence of Theism (revised edition), is Chapter 7, which focuses on the following sentence:(3) An omnipresent spirit exists.Swinburne's initial clarification of (3) is brief:By a 'spirit' is understood a person without a body, a non-embodied person. By 'omnipresent' is meant 'everywhere present'. That God is a person, yet one without a body, seems the most elementary claim of theism. (COT, p. 101)In my last post, we saw what Swinburne thinks the word … [Read more...]

Evolution as a liberal cultural weapon

I spend a good part of each week in the classroom trying to teach college students some physics. I've done a lot of work on supernatural and paranormal beliefs, particularly varieties of creationism and intelligent design. So I'm professionally obligated to deplore any inroads creationism makes into education, and to insist that evolution is a vital component of science education.But then, many others also care about this issue. Creationism reliably comes up as a prominent example of the danger … [Read more...]

The Sentence “God exists” – Part 5

In Part II of The Coherence of Theism (revised edition,1993), Richard Swinburne discusses the idea of a "contingent God". The first chapter in Part II, is Chapter 7, "An Omnipresent Spirit",which focuses on the following sentence:(3) An omnipresent spirit exists.This sentence involves two key attributes that Swinburne uses to define "God" (or "divine being", which is a category of beings to which God belongs). In Chapter 7, Swinburne "considers what it means and whether it is coherent to suppose … [Read more...]

Dianelos on the Moral Argument

Dianelos Georgoudis, in reply to my post “Atheism Debunked! Again!,” has conveniently and succinctly offered both “conceptual” and a “practical” moral arguments for theism. I take the liberty of putting the first of these in premise/conclusion format and try to express it a bit more rigorously. I do hope I have not distorted his meaning. For his original wording, please see the comments section of the earlier post.The Conceptual Argument:1) For naturalists, that is, those who believe that the nat … [Read more...]

Atheism Debunked! Again!

On his Dangerous Idea blog Victor Reppert refers to a 2007 article by Washington Post writer Michael Gerson: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/12/AR2007071201620.html I did not see this article at the time, and my reason for commenting on it now is that the arguments it gives are ones we have heard many times and ones that will be heard again ad nauseam. Though hackneyed in the extreme, these arguments need to be addressed again and again, and their … [Read more...]

Social changes that may undermine nonbelief

Standard accounts of secularization emphasize how social changes that led to the modern world undermine organized religion. Few people actively wanted religion to become a more private affair – secularization has always proceeded against a background of shirt-rending about the erosion of public morality. And few were affected by intellectual critiques of religion. Science, for example, had little to do with the European decline of organized religion except in an indirect sense, where s … [Read more...]


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