Links and News — 19-Dec-11


Secular Outpost Revamped

  • Ex-Apologist favorably mentions recent changes at The Secular Outpost.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): Thanks!]

The Skeptic Awards 2011

  • The Skeptic Magazine plans to give awards for several types of skeptical activity, including “Best Blog.”
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): Please consider voting for The Secular Outpost!]


Bellingham Lectures in Philosophy of Religion

  • These lectures, which will be streamed online, will include talks by Jeffrey Schloss and Michael Murray on evolutionary theories of religious belief and natural evil in a fine-tuned universe.

Schieber’s Objections to the Kalam Argument” by John Danaher

PhilPapers Survey Results

  • Among all respondents, 72.8% accept or lean toward atheism. Among general philosophers of science, that number rises to 77.6%. For philosophers of probability, it is 78.9%. For philosophers of religion, however, 72.3% accept or lean toward theism, while 19.1% accept or lean toward atheism.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): Nothing surprising here, except perhaps that as many as 19.1% of philosophers of religion accept or lean toward atheism.]

A Bayesian Approach to Absent Evidence Reasoning” by Christopher Stephens

  • Abstract: Under what conditions is the failure to have evidence that p, evidence that p is false? Absent evidence reasoning is common in many sciences, including astronomy, archeology, biology and medicine. An often-repeated epistemological motto is that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Analysis of absent evidence reasoning usually takes place in a deductive or frequentist hypothesis-testing framework. Instead, a Bayesian analysis of this motto is explored and it is shown that, under plausible assumptions about the nature of evidence, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Air Force Academy Dogged by Anti-Christian Pressure” by Baptist Press


When Are Supernatural Claims Worth Investigating? Should We Want Atheism to be True?

Intimation of Elsewhere Ignored” by Maverick Philosopher

  • The author argues that nonbelievers who have a mystical or religious experience should find those experiences worth investigating.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I agree with Maverick Philosopher.]

God and Wonderdad: A Final Discussion of Antitheism” by Randal Rauser

  • The author argues that all of us ought to hope that theism is true.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I think Rauser's analogy is excellent and I agree with the point he makes.]

Atheism and Public Relations

Yep, This Will Make Everything Better” by Hemant Mehta

  • The author criticizes American Atheists’ Dave Silverman for his rather tactless post on Facebook about Islam and Mohammed.
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I agree with pretty much everything in Mehta's post.]

Do Some Atheist Philosophers Criticize a Straw Man Version of Cosmological Arguments?

Meta-Sophistry” by Edward Feser: among other things, Feser claims that “certain atheist philosophers ritualistically” misrepresent cosmological arguments for God’s existence by suggesting they rely upon a premise which says, “Everything has a cause.” Using that article, that article’s combox, and linked articles, we can summarize the purported violators as follows:

  • Alleged examples of this error in articles published in the Secular Web, including Theodore Schick, Dan Barker, and Adolf Grünbaum: see here
  • Alleged examples of this error in articles published elsewhere, by such authors as Daniel Dennett, Robin Le Poidevin, Graham Priest, Michael Martin, Bertrand Russell, Simon Blackburn: see here
  • [Editor's Note (Lowder): I haven't taken the time to investigate Feser's claim.]

Matthew Ferguson: Ten Reasons to Reject the Apologetic 10/42 Source Slogan (2012)
Great Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics by a Christian
Religious Experience – Recognizing God
Great Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics by a Christian
About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • Richard Wein

    I wrote a response to the Maverick Philosopher post mentioned above, but then found that he doesn't seem to allow comments. So I'll post it here instead.

    If a person already had good reasons to think that such experiences as out-of-body are not veridical, does having such an experience himself give him significantly more reason to think them veridical than he had before? Does the personal experience give him significant new evidence? Probably not.

    I haven't had an out-of-body experience, but I've had a sleep paralysis experience in which I "saw" a ghostly being in the room. I didn't feel the need to take seriously the possibility that I'd seen a real being. Given that I feel I have good reasons for my naturalist view of the world, and that this experience can be accommodated by that view, it would take far stronger evidence to make me seriously reconsider it.

    I would love to have an out-of-body experience, but I doubt I would learn a lot from it given what I've already read about them. Of course, experiences can have effects on us which are not rationally appropriate to the evidence. I'm probably too hard-boiled a naturalist to be so affected, but then I won't know for sure unless it happens.

  • Steven Carr

    '"Everything has a cause."

    Presumably you would have to know about everything to know if that is true or not.

    Do theists know about everything, or do they only pretend to know about everything?