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...]

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...]

Critical Thinking and Skepticism – Part 2

Based on a quick review of Michael Shermer's key statements about skepticism (A Brief Introduction, and  A Skeptical Manifesto)  there appear to be at least two general principles of rational skepticism:GP1. Be open-minded, not closed-minded or dogmatic.GP2. Be discriminating about believing claims, theories, and viewpoints, not gullible and credulous.In my previous post on this subject (Critical Thinking and Skepticism), I argued that Critical Thinking provides a necessary framework … [Read more...]

Critical Thinking and Skepticism

In a recent post advocating the end of Philosophy of Religion, John Loftus commented that PoR classes are often taught with the primary goal of teaching students to think critically,  and he objected that "Teaching students to be critical thinkers is very important but teaching them to have a skeptical disposition is more important."I would argue, however, that (a) skepticism is good and rational only to the extent that it arises out of critical thinking and conforms to the principles and sta … [Read more...]

The End of PoR – Part 2

John Loftus has begun laying out his views on PoR in greater detail on his website.  I'm going to comment on a few key points that he makes in a recent post: What Exactly is My Proposal For Ending the Philosophy Of Religion Discipline in Secular Universities? It will probably take me a few posts to cover a few points made by Loftus. First,  I will discuss some points by Loftus that relate PoR to critical thinking.I have a special interest and background in critical thinking.My first c … [Read more...]

One Problem with Swinburne’s Case for God

In The Existence of God (2nd edition, hereafter: EOG), Richard Swinburne lays out a systematic cumulative case for the claim that it is more likely than not that God exists.I have a specific objection to the third argument in this case, but I believe this objection throws a monkey wrench into the works, and creates a serious problem for the case as a whole.To understand my objection, it is important to understand the general logical structure of Swinburne’s case for the existence of God. … [Read more...]

Norman Geisler’s Case for the Death of Jesus – Part 4

Part of Geisler's case for the claim that "Jesus actually died on the cross" is based on the spear-wound story, which is found only in the historically unreliable Fourth gospel.One general reason for doubting the historicity and reliability of the spear-wound story is this:GR3. The Passion narratives of the gospels are historically unreliable(GR3) is supported by various cautions and doubts expressed by Raymond Brown (a leading N.T. scholar who is an expert on the Passion Narratives) … [Read more...]