How to Use the Argument From Evil

The problem of evil can be used in two different ways.  It can be used offensively; that is, in an attempt to criticize and undermine theistic belief, to show that theism is false and that belief in God is unfounded. But it can also be used defensively, i.e., to show that atheism is epistemically warranted, justified, or reasonable.  Of these two distinct uses, the first is by far the most common. But I think that the almost exclusive use of the problem of evil as part of an offensive attack has … [Read more...]

Evangelicals and the Donald Dilemma

Apparently, the candidacy of Donald Trump is splitting evangelicals. Trump presents them with the ultimate dilemma: As president, Hillary Clinton and a Democratically-controlled Senate could change the Supreme Court in ways highly antithetical to evangelicals. Today’s Houston Chronicle quotes Robert Jeffress of the Dallas First Baptist Church as saying, “…in the end, the election is a binary choice between a pro-life, pro-religious liberty, pro-conservative justices on the Supreme Court candi … [Read more...]

Was the Buddha Enlightened? (part 2)

A previous post (part 1) raised the question of whether or not there is good reason to think that the Buddha was enlightened. In that post, I mainly focused on the doctrine of karmic rebirth, pointing out that at least in early Buddhism, liberation from karmic rebirth is one of the things that the Buddha is said to achieved at the moment of his enlightenment. But if there is no karmic rebirth, then the Buddha was not enlightened — at least not in the sense in which his enlightenment was p … [Read more...]

Party Before Country? Which Republican Senators Still Support Trump

In a normal election, you'd think that a video of a Presidential candidate talking about sexual assault would fatal for the candidate's campaign. But this election cycle has been anything but normal. So, with Trump's campaign in crisis, I thought it would be interesting to maintain a roll call of which Republican Senators have said enough is enough and will no longer support Trump. I intend to update this table as new information becomes available.Most of the information in the initial … [Read more...]

Priests and Celibacy

Here is an interesting article sent to me by a former student. It is written by a psychologist who had a 30-year career counseling priests who had lapsed from their celibacy vows: have never understood the celibacy requirement. Was Jesus celibate? We have zero evidence one way or another. It would seem highly unusual for a 30-year old man never to have had sexual relations. Who knows? Paul said, (I Corinthians 7:1) "It is good for … [Read more...]

The Damnable Thing about Damnation

Do you ever read the reviews on Amazon Books? Many are a waste of time, but some are interesting. I noticed one that reviewed The End of Christianity, Prometheus Books, 2011, ed. John Loftus. The review was written by one “Alex C.” I assume that this is not Alex Comfort, author of The Joy of Sex. Maybe he is a relative of Ray Comfort, the Christian apologist. At any rate, I was interested to see that he had some comments on my essay in that volume, “Hell: Christianity’s most Damnable Doctrine (pp … [Read more...]

Was The Buddha Enlightened? (Part 1)

Asking whether the Buddha was enlightened may seem like asking whether the Pope is Catholic. The answer would seem to be an obvious “yes.” At the core of Buddhism is the figure of the Buddha. The word “buddha” means “one who is awake” or “enlightened.” If the Buddha had not been enlightened, he wouldn’t have been the Buddha, would he? But things are not so simple. The concept of enlightenment in Buddhism is complex. If Buddhist enlightenment should turn out to be something that is implausible to … [Read more...]

Ethical Subjectivism and the Argument from Outrage

In arguing for the superiority of theistic ethics over secular ethics, apologists sometimes present some version of an argument like this:1. If theism is not true, then ethics is subjective. 2. Ethics is not subjective. 3. Therefore, theism is true.I think this is a bad argument because I think premise 1 is false. But I will not be arguing that point here. Instead, I want to point out what I think is a massive irony in the way premise 2 is usually defended. I call the  argumentative … [Read more...]