About Stephen Law

Erik Wielenberg’s argument re sceptical theism defended and developed – forthcoming in Religious Studies

(revised 9 April 2014) Sceptical theism and a lying God – Wielenberg’s argument defended and developed   Stephen Law Department of Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, Kensington Square, London W5 8HX UK s.law@heythrop.ac.uk     Abstract: Sceptical theists attempt to block the evidential argument from evil by arguing that a key premise of that argument – that gratuitous evil exists – cannot reasonably be maintained. They argue that, for all we know, our knowledge of reasons … [Read more...]

Playing The Mystery Card (incl. McGrath vs Dawkins) from my book Believing Bullshit

 PLAYING THE MYSTERY CARD   Suppose critics point out that not only do you have little in the way of argument to support your particular belief system, there also seems to be powerful evidence against it. If you want, nevertheless, to convince both yourself and others that your beliefs are not nearly as ridiculous as your critics suggest, what might you do?   Perhaps Play The Mystery Card. As we will see, this sort of strategy is particularly popular when it comes to defending b … [Read more...]

Philosophy and religion in Schools

Religion and philosophy in schools (from Hand and Winstanley, Philosophy in Schools, Continuum 2008))   Is philosophy in schools a good idea? The extent to which early exposure to a little philosophical thinking is of educational benefit is, of course, largely an empirical question. As a philosopher, that sort of empirical study is not my area of expertise. But of course there is also a philosophical dimension to this question. As a philosopher, conceptual clarification and the analysis … [Read more...]

TV interview in Tehran

I was at a philosophy of religion conference in Tehran, Iran last week - invited as an atheist to speak to and engage with assembled philosophers, cleric. etc.I appeared briefly on TV - unfortunately the bit of the interview they chose to broadcast was misleading as they cut the "but"...Go here: I was at a philosophy of religion conference in Tehran, Iran last week - invited as an atheist to speak to and engage with assembled philosophers, cleric. etc.I appeared briefly on TV - … [Read more...]

What is humanism?

  What is Humanism?   “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad.   We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of co … [Read more...]

Wielenberg’s Divine Lies, and McBrayer and Swenson’s response – my comments for feedback

  Skeptical Theism and Divine Deception: The McBrayer/Swenson response to Wielenberg   1. Skeptical Theism   Evidential arguments from evil often[i] take something like the following form:   If God exists, gratuitous evil does not exist. Gratuitous evil exists. Therefore, God does not exist   Gratuitous evil is evil for which there is no God-justifying reason. Why suppose gratuitous evil exists? Well, we observe great evils for which we can identify no God-justifying reason. Thu … [Read more...]

Pressing Your Buttons (from my book Believing Bullshit)

  PRESSING YOUR BUTTONSOne way in which we can shape the beliefs of others is by rational persuasion. Suppose, for example, that I want someone to believe that Buckingham Palace is in London (which it is). I could provide them with a great deal of evidence to support that belief. I could also just take them to London so they can see with their own eyes that that’s where Buckingham Palace is located.But what if these kinds of method aren’t available? Suppose I have little or no evi … [Read more...]

Response to Randal Rauser’s response to my response to his shoddy review…

Randal Rauser has responded to my suggestion that his review of my book Believing Bullshit was pretty shoddy (though not as shoddy as Martin Cohen’s in the THES). Go here. Understandable, I suppose. By combining selective quotation, misdirection and quite a lot of bluster, Rauser is quite successful at generating the impression I have been unfair to him. A preliminary point re not responding to Rauser’s entire review. After disclaimers about what follows being nothing pe … [Read more...]