Turf war?

There is some substance to the perennial debate over whether the existence of gods is largely a philosophical problem or a scientific matter. But I also wonder whether much of the debate is an artifact of existing academic disciplinary boundaries.So here's a suspicion to consider: most of this dispute is due to an artificial, socially constructed and historically reinforced separation that makes philosophy and the sciences separate cultures with their own sets of habits ("methods"). Our … [Read more...]

Answers to Objections

Ten years ago I had a debate in Colorado Springs with Methodist minister, the Rev. Trigg. Nice man and a stimulating debate. The topic was "Theism vs. Secular Humanism as a basis for ethics." I wrote up a set of answers to anticipated audience objections, which I do not think I have ever posted anywhere. I think they might be of interest here:Objection: God is the only possible foundation for ethics. Because God's nature is absolutely and essentially holy, all value must ultimately flow from … [Read more...]

Unsecular Turkey

Here's an interesting corrective to the notion that Turkey is a "secular state" as so often described in Western media reports.The Diyanet (the Turkish Directorate of Religious Services) has long been one of the largest government departments, and is devoted to Sunni Islam. In Turkey, clergy are government employees. With recent expansions, the number of people employed by the Diyanet will go up to 130 thousand. Before the current Islamist ruling party took power in 2002, this number was around … [Read more...]

Secular Web asking for support

The Secular Web—this blog is a side-project of the Secular Web—is asking for support. It's a good cause; I encourage donations. … [Read more...]

Historical fine-tuning

I would like to bring a hitherto much-neglected example of divine fine-tuning to the attention of the public: the fine-tuning of human history. Moreover, this fine-tuning is reaching a critical point now.Let us set aside religious sources as interested parties, and restrict ourselves to arguments with a secular pedigree. Even with this restriction, it is clear that we live in times where we can anticipate great transformations, ranging from the utopian to the apocalyptic.On the … [Read more...]

The Meaning of Divine Attributes

As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing better than doing philosophy, and philosophy of religion is the chocolate-fudge frosting on the cake. In philosophy of religion, you get a full serving of each of the major areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science, to name just the most obvious examples. Richard Swinburne points out this multi-facetted aspect of philosophy of religion in the Introduction to The Coherence of T … [Read more...]

Atonement as satisfying a vendetta

Some time ago, on the local Christian radio station, I was listening to a preacher explain how Jesus's death on the cross saved us all by paying the penalty for all our human sins against God. He used the analogy of a judge who lets a convicted person go, because some other person, innocent of the crime, volunteers to go to the gallows instead. The law is satisfied by someone paying the penalty; the convict just has to accept the sacrifice of the innocent person and walk free.I've run into this … [Read more...]

Secular asabiyya?

I've been reading Bassam Tibi's Political Islam, World Politics and Europe.Don't bother with the book itself: it's almost unreadable. This is not, by the way, Tibi's fault. He's a Syrian social scientist who spent his life in Germany—English must be his third language. This book was in desperate need of a good editor, and some executive at Routledge no doubt thought editorial work was merely a cost that could be safely cut.Still, Tibi has some interesting ideas. For example, he follows Ibn K … [Read more...]


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