Is the Religious Right Finished?

This week was a bad week for right-wingers. The Supreme Court (I hate the acronym “SCOTUS.” Sounds like a disreputable body part.) upheld the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) against a challenge that would have removed the federal subsidy for health insurance purchase in non-participating (red) states. Then, just yesterday, came an even crueler blow when the Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. State officials here in Texas were apoplectic or lachrymose, vowing no surrender. Speaking of … [Read more...]

Why not a Fast from Religion?

I notice that Ramadan begins next Thursday. This, of course, is the month that Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. I am not sure that it is good for your health to abstain from water if you are working outside in 110 degree temperatures, as are common in many parts of the Middle East this time of year. Yet the faithful say that it is good for their spiritual health. Other religions also have seasons for fasting and self-denial; the Catholics have Lent, for instance. Many … [Read more...]

Christianity: An Angel with a Dirty Face?

This is a greatly belated review of Paul Johnson’s A History of Christianity (New York: Athenum, 1977), 556 pp. I have had this book in my possession for nearly forty years, but have only read it through recently. As a representative of what we might call “scholarly popular history,” it is virtually unsurpassed, belonging in the same category as Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror, and Richard Rhodes’ The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Such works are written for the entertainment and instruction of no … [Read more...]

The Real Problem with Miracles

Here is a simple representation using Bayes’ Theorem of how a miracle claim would be assessed, where m is the claim that a miracle has occurred, e is the evidence for the claim, and k is background knowledge: p(e/m & k) × p(m/k) p(m/e & k) = -------------------------------- p(e/k) So, the credibility of a miracle claim given certain evidence and background comes down to three factors:(1) p(e/m & k), the likelihood that we would ha … [Read more...]

Hell and Retribution

The comments on my last post contained a lively exchange about hell. Here is a quote from my piece "Heaven and Hell" in Debating Christian Theism, edited by Moreland, Meister, and Sweis (Oxford: 2013), pp. 539-540. Here I am responding to The Catholic Encyclopedia's defense of the traditional doctrine of an eternal punitive hell.The Catholic Encyclopedia: "Nor can it be said: the wicked will be punished, but not by any positive infliction: for either death will be the end of their existence, … [Read more...]

Fan Mail from a True Christian

This morning I found the following message in my inbox:Hi,I have just been looking at some of the videos of you v William Land Craig and I have to say for sheer stupidity you take some beating!Satan loves people like [you] though he hates you on a personal basis.Rose WhiteTo which I sent the following reply: Ms. White,Thank you for your loving exhibition of Christian charity. Even though I am an atheist, I am truly humbled by your display of kindness and … [Read more...]

Murderous Anti-theism: A Further Response to John Mark N. Reynolds

John Mark N. Reynolds, Provost of Houston Baptist University has written a lengthy reaction to criticisms of his earlier blog post claiming that anti-theism is the murderous force behind communism. I and Bob Seidensticker criticized his earlier essay. Reynolds’ more recent piece is, as I say, a reaction to those and perhaps other criticisms. Though it is a reaction, it is not really a response since he does not address his critics by name or quote from our posts. Consequently, it is not always e … [Read more...]

What Explains God’s Moral Grounding Power? Part II

In an earlier article, I wrote about a question for divine command metaethics, a question that I called the Moral Grounding Question.Moral Grounding Question (MGQ): In virtue of what do God’s commands ground moral obligations? (or, in virtue of what does God have MG-power?)In that previous post, I explained the moral grounding question and showed that it is a question that defenders of the Divine Command Theory (DCT) need to answer. I also argued that one possible answer to MGQ, namely t … [Read more...]


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