About Keith Parsons

Strategies for the Problem of Evil

A recent post on the problem of evil (PoE) drew over 250 comments, a new record, I think. The comments were lively, but went in various directions, making it hard to follow a clear thread of argument after a while. Here I would like maybe to help focus discussion by offering my synopsis of the ways that the PoE is generally approached, and listing what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of each.Theists have generally addressed the PoE in three ways, or perhaps we should say by … [Read more...]

Is Intentionality a Cardinal Problem for Physicalism?

This response is based on the summary by Joel Steinmetz of an article by John Haldane:http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/calhoun/socratic/Steinmetz-Problem_of_Intentionality.pdfIt is not based on the not the original article by Haldane, so my remarks here must be regarded as provisional and informal. Still, I would like to address a few points.Haldane’s argument, as presented here, is somewhat confusing because of the terminology employed. The key terms are “extension,” “intension (wit … [Read more...]

Atheism and the Meaning of Life, Again

http://www.strangenotions.com/if-atheism-is-true-does-life-still-have-meaning/The above article by Jennifer Fulwiler, who converted from atheism to Catholicism, raises the perennial issue of the meaning of life for atheists. For me, the most engaging part of the piece is the quote from Ross Douthat. Douthat apparently concedes that an atheist’s joys and sorrows can feel as intensely meaningful as they do for the theist. However, he proposes an interesting analogy. In warfare, the motivation f … [Read more...]

GOP Creationist Believes in Evolution Within Phyla

Check this out:http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/gop-lawmaker-claims-evolution-doesnt-square-with-facts-big-or-little-dogs-are-still-dogs/#.VFqEGyIxkoU.emailIn addition to the usual nonsense, there is something interesting here. This guy says he believes in evolution up to a point, that is, within a phylum. Creationists all along have endorsed evolution within "kinds," whatever those are. Supposing that this guy knows what a phylum is, he seems to extend the "kind" all the way to phyla. … [Read more...]

The Amalekites and Options for Apologists

I have been having a very interesting discussion with a Christian correspondent who calls himself “Veritas.” Discussions of this sort all too often generate far more heat than light, so let me first note that in our interactions the contributions by Veritas have been consistently intelligent, courteous, and candid. The focus of our conversation has been a particular scriptural passage, I Samuel 15: 1-3. For convenience, let me quote these verses:“Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoi … [Read more...]

Biblical Genocide and Village Atheists

This post springs from an interesting discussion I had with Scott Scheule in the comments section of an earlier post. The issues there are important enough to deserve a deeper look.Quoting the Bible against believers is one of the hoariest weapons in the freethinker’s war chest. It has been done many times, never more cogently or eloquently than in Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason. Robert Ingersoll’s Some Mistakes of Moses is another fine instance of the genre. The tactic cites cruelties, hor … [Read more...]

Getting back to the “Fundamentals” in Texas Education

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/19/creationism_is_just_the_start_how_right_wing_christians_are_warping_americas_schools_partner/ Texas is great. Sure, the weather is hot, and you might have to dodge some tornadoes, and you had better like Tex-Mex and chicken fried steak (actually, I do). But it is never boring. The fundamentalists keep it interesting. The State Board of Indoctrination, er, Education, which is dominated by fundamentalists, wants to make sure that Texas students are fed … [Read more...]

The Historian’s Job and Christian Apologetics

I am currently writing a work of history. My co-author and I are investigating the nuclear tests conducted in the Marshall Islands by the U.S. from 1946 to 1958. During that period, the United States conducted 67 nuclear tests (including some duds) on or near Bikini and Eniwetok atolls in the Marshall Islands. These tests produced a total combined yield of 108 megatons, the equivalent of one Hiroshima bomb (.015 MT) exploded daily for over nineteen years. Needless to say, unleashing this amount … [Read more...]