Why be Skeptical? Reason #1

In a previous post I put forward seven reasons why we should be skeptical (Reason For Skepticism #7 is in the comments section).  In this post I'm going to provide some facts and data in support of Reason For Skepticism #1:(RFS1) People are often dishonest, deceptive, or have been deceived by others.Here is a nice summary statement about psychological research on this topic:Overall, the experimental evidence shows that when placed in the right (or wrong) situation, people are prone t … [Read more...]

Why Be Skeptical?

According to my old American Heritage Dictionary (2nd College edition, 1982), a “skeptic” is a person “who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.”  This seems to come close to what I have in mind when I support the view that students should be taught to be skeptical as a part of teaching students to become critical thinkers.However, this definition is a bit too weak.  Someone who only questioned “assertions” or “conclusio … [Read more...]

Questions Concerning the Existence of God

It does not look like I can retire this year, maybe next year (it could happen!).  But I think I will start my ten-year plan to develop a multi-volume critique of Christianity in January, even if I'm still working my 9 to 5 job.Part of evaluating Christianity is evaluating the fundamental metaphysical claim that 'God exists'.   If there is no God, then, obviously, there is no Son of God or God Incarnate, so the truth of most of the other basic Christian beliefs depends on the truth of t … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Argument from Religious Experience – Part 1

In The Existence of God (2nd edition, hereafter: EOG) , Richard Swinburne presents a careful and systematic case for the existence of God.  Eight of the arguments (that he considers to be significant) are presented as bits of empirical data each of which increases the probability of the hypothesis that God exists a bit (with the exception of the Problem of Evil, which he believes decreases the probability a bit).These eight inductive arguments are supposed to make the hypothesis of the e … [Read more...]

Morality Cannot Have a Foundation in God: A Summary for the General Reader by Quentin Smith

The following essay was written by Quentin Smith around 2001 or 2002, but inexplicably fell through the cracks. While organizing files on my computer, I recently rediscovered it and am happy to be able to share it with our readers. I am posting it here, without taking a position pro or con, for interested readers. Feel free to debate in the combox.  MORALITY CANNOT HAVE A FOUNDATION IN GOD: A SUMMARY FOR THE GENERAL READER                                                   BY QUEN … [Read more...]

One Problem with Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 2

In a previous post I pointed out three different problems related to the third argument in Richard Swinburne's systematic case for the existence of God.  The third argument is the final argument of his arguments from the nature of the universe.  It is his Teleological Argument from Spatial Order (hereafter: TASO):(e3) There is a complex physical universe that is governed by simple natural laws and the values of the constants of the laws and of the variables of the universe’s initial cond … [Read more...]

Did God Create Nuclear Weapons?

Naive View

Christians and other believers in God often say, 'God created everything.'  If we take this literally, as a young child would do, we might start thinking of some objections or possible counterexamples: 'Did God create nuclear weapons?' 'Did God create the ebola virus?' etc.  The doctrine of divine creation leads quickly to the problem of evil.A common response to such an idea would be to say that 'God created humans, and it was humans who created nuclear weapons--not God.'  So, God is one … [Read more...]

“But is it Art?!” Family resemblance concepts’ (Wittgenstein) explained simply (from my The Philosophy Gym)

9. But is it Art? From my book The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking. I mean they’d gone and fucking installed the work without me even being here. That’s just not on. This is my bed. If someone else installs it, it’s just dirty linen. If I do it, it’s art. Tracey Emin (artist), Evening Standard, 12/9/00. Today it seems almost anything can be classified as a work of art: Damien Hirst’s pickled shark or Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, for example. But what is art … [Read more...]