Norms as Hypothetical Imperatives

Note: This may be a tad technical for some readers. In my postings here at SO I recognize that many readers are not academic philosophers, so I try to walk a line that balances philosophical accuracy with accessibility. Here I go into somewhat greater detail and depth on an issue that non-philosophers may regard as esoteric. The issue is actually quite important, dealing with the sources and justification of ethical and moral norms. My reflections here spring from recently going over Hilary … [Read more...]

Violence Against Religion?

Victor Reppert posted this on his Dangerous Idea blog under the title “Why Not?”: “OK, suppose you think that religion really does harm, and we really have to do what we can to stamp it out. Most of us don't have the opportunity to help establish or eliminate religion by the use of violence. But suppose an opportunity arises. Through a violent act, we can, as we see it, greatly decrease the influence of religion on the world. Now what do you do? Do you say "No, violence is wrong, we … [Read more...]

Jesus End: The Formal Possibilities

There is often discussion of the resurrection apologetic here at SO. Some newcomers to the conversation may be put off by the complexity of it all. In hopes of providing a user-friendly introduction to the context of the debates, I offer the following:Innumerable scenarios could be and have been advanced about the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. Even in ancient times there were many different accounts. For instance, the Gnostic Basilides’ scenario was that Jesus was not crucified, but someone e … [Read more...]

Moses and Myth

I got a correspondence this morning from a reader who identified himself as having been raised in a strictly orthodox Jewish environment. One argument that he had often heard concerned the historicity of the stories about Moses, the Exodus, and the delivery of the Law at Mt. Sinai. I cannot reproduce these arguments here since they were quite detailed. However, the basically amounted to saying that it is unreasonable to hold that these stories were fabrications and that there just is no … [Read more...]

Is Extremism Political, Religious, or Political/Religious?

Atheist author and blogger Dan Arel as recently written that he was wrong in his previous response to the critiques of Islam by “new atheists” such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins: admit in public that one was wrong requires a greater commitment to honesty and tru … [Read more...]

Does the Brain Construct Reality?

PBS is hosting a series on the brain, appropriately titled The Brain hosted by Rice University Neuroscientist David Eagleman. I watched the first episode last week and found it highly informative and entertaining. People have wondered what scientific achievements of the 21st Century could rival those of the 20th Century—relativity theory, quantum physics, DNA and molecular biology, and big bang cosmology. My guess is that this century will be the Century of the Brain, that is, we will finally g … [Read more...]

Please Excuse me from the Francis-Frenzy

I was watching the NBC Evening News a couple of nights ago as it covered the arrival of Pope Francis I. The allegedly objective reporter referred to the Pope not as "The Pope" or as "Pope Francis," but as "The Holy Father" and "His Holiness." Is NBC now CBS--The Catholic Broadcasting System? Would any imam or even the Dalai Lama be shown such reverential deference? Of course, Francis does look cuddly compared to his predecessor, Grand Inquisitor Benedict XVI. J. Edgar Hoover would have looked c … [Read more...]

Divine Commands and Informative Identity

Last week I had an exchange with Matthew Flannagan on divine command theory (DCT) in the comments section of the post “Does William Lane Craig Actually Believe in Evil?” I raised some standard Euthyphro-type objections and asked for his response. He graciously replied even though he has treated the topic in much greater depth and detail elsewhere, particularly in his book, coauthored with Paul Copan, Did God Really Command Genocide? (Baker Books, 2014), and in his article “Is Ethical Naturalism m … [Read more...]