Archives for July 2011

Fine-Tuning Argument: Having and Eating the Cake

Richard Swinburne adopted the Fine Tuning Argument as the heart of his 'Teleological Argument from Spatial Order' (The Existence of God, 2nd ed., p.167-190). The key premise of this argument mentions tuning: "...the universe...[is] tuned--that is, such as to allow and indeed make significantly probable the existence of human bodies." (EOG, p.188)Here is another statement of the key claim:"...the laws and boundary conditions of the universe...[are] such as to make probable the evolution of human … [Read more...]

Creeping theocracy

Here in my home state of South Carolina, a common expression when things look particularly gloomy is, “Thank God for Mississippi.” Even atheists have been known to utter this cliché. But after hearing about the August 6 public prayer event designed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, some of us in South Carolina are now saying, “Thank God for Texas.”Jim Demint, my South Carolina U.S. Senator and a Tea Party favorite, just published a book that describes why he came close to quitting after one term. How … [Read more...]

The Attack on Higher Education

This post is a bit off topic, but I think people interested in higher education (which include many followers of SO) need to know that higher education is presently under strident, well-funded, ideological attack here in Texas. Be warned. If it succeeds here this campaign will be coming soon to a neighborhood near you:Presently there are some who claim to value education, but think that public higher education needs drastic reform. These individuals think that the taxpayers would be getting a … [Read more...]

Natural miracles?

Say you run into a conservative Christian church that advertises that next Sunday, the minister is going to call on the power of Jesus and resurrect a dead member of the congregation.You stop by, thinking the attempt might be amusing. As you walk into the service, it looks more crazy than fun. They really have brought up a stinking corpse to the altar; one that should have been buried a week ago. As you start thinking about all the health code violations, the event begins. The minister kicks up … [Read more...]

Books on Islam

I occasionally get asked for recommendations about books to read on Islam, particularly if lately I've been grumbling about superficial descriptions of the religion.Usually I pull out some intro-to-Islam undergraduate textbooks. There are many good examples. But I wonder if they are really not to the point. After all, especially for skeptics, there may be little useful in learning about ritual details, the history of the Sunni-Shia split, Muslim legal doctrines, specifically Islamic theological … [Read more...]